Sequencing a college bachelor’s degree with family formation during the transition to adulthood: Implications for adult depression


McCall, James Richard S. (2017). Sequencing a college bachelor's degree with family formation during the transition to adulthood: Implications for adult depression. Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association. Montréal, QC: American Sociological Association.


In this study I considered the limits of a college degree to protect individuals from mental ill-health during the transition to adulthood by examining the effects of family role adoption sequencing with bachelor’s degree completion on depression. Guided by two life course perspectives: cumulative advantage/disadvantage theory and the normative order hypothesis, I hypothesized that entering family roles prior to earning a bachelor’s degree will result in greater depressive symptoms in adulthood. I also explored the role of perceived physical health as a potential mediator in the relationships between role sequencing and depression. In order to test the hypothesized relationships, I used data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health). Results illustrate that family sequencing effects were present for adult depression outcomes among some groups with primary differences varying by gender. However, the evidence does not allow for strong theoretical conclusions to be drawn. Also shown was that unique and unexpected links exist between marital sequencing and perceived physical health.


Reference Type

Conference proceeding

Book Title

Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association

Series Title

Section on the Sociology of the Family Refereed Roundtable Session and Business Meeting


McCall, James Richard S.

Series Author(s)

McCrory Calarco, Jessica

Year Published



American Sociological Association

City of Publication

Montréal, QC

Reference ID