Wang, Zhonghao (2019). Parental relative education, family relationships, and offspring's adult mental health.
Previous studies have investigated associations between family socioeconomic status (SES) and mental health over the life course and linkages between socioeconomic similarity and the quality of couples’ relationships. However, these two bodies of literature have not informed each other, leaving the question that how parental relative SES may influence offspring’s adult mental health unanswered. In this study, I use structural equational modeling (SEM) applied to the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health data to explore this question. I focus on parental education as an indicator of family SES. I find that, for both sons and daughters, the effects of maternal education advantage on children’s adult mental health vary across different degrees of educational difference favoring mothers. More specifically, large maternal education advantage is associated with more interparental discord, which erodes parent-child relationships. Further, lower quality of family relationships in adolescence leads to worse mental health in adulthood. However, small maternal education advantage does not generate a significant impact. Moreover, equal parental education contributes to better adult mental health for daughters by improving the quality of father-daughter bonds, an effect not found for sons. This research provides a better understanding of connections among family SES, relationship processes, and individuals’ well-being.
University of British Columbia