Broken ladders: The effect of parental incarceration on subjective social class


Shaw, Unique (2012). Broken ladders: The effect of parental incarceration on subjective social class. 2012 Add Health Users Conference. Bethesda, MD.


Incarceration is seen as an engine of social inequality, producing marginalized subgroups of people within society (Wakefield and Uggen, 2010). Though research has largely indicated that processes of exclusion are apparent in the lives of offenders, such processes also work to create unintentional outcomes for their families (Murray 2007). This study uses the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health to examine the subjective implications of incarceration on children. Particularly, this study explores how timing of incarceration, race, and gender work to moderate the association between parental incarceration and adult children’s perception of their social status relative to other people in the United States. Consistent with previous literature, the results indicate that parental incarceration holds negative implications for children of prisoners by significantly reducing respondent’s subjective social class. The effect of parental incarceration is most detrimental during younger ages, for Hispanic respondents, and for females. These findings suggest that the effect of incarceration extends beyond objective measures in the lives of families.


Reference Type

Conference proceeding

Book Title

2012 Add Health Users Conference


Shaw, Unique

Year Published


City of Publication

Bethesda, MD

Reference ID