Contextual determinants of adolescent perceived early fatality


Zimmerman, Gregory M.; Rees, Carter; & Farrell, Chelsea (2016). Contextual determinants of adolescent perceived early fatality. Journal of Youth and Adolescence. vol. 45 (8) pp. 1546-1559


Adolescents overestimate their risk for early or premature death. In turn, perceived early fatality is associated with a host of adverse developmental outcomes. Research on the correlates of perceived early fatality is nascent, and an examination of the contextual determinants of perceived early fatality is largely absent from the literature. Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health), this study examines whether friendship networks and the school climate impact youth's perceptions of premature death. Analysis using hierarchical linear models on 9617 youth (52.0 % female) within 113 middle and high schools across the U.S. assess the extent to which peer and school future orientation climate and friendship network characteristics (network size, density, popularity, and centrality) impact respondents' life expectancy. Consistent with hypotheses: (1) higher levels of life expectancy in respondents' friendship networks and schools are associated with more optimistic expectations about the future among sample respondents; and (2) youth embedded in larger and denser friendship networks report higher levels of life expectancy. The results are consistent with the literature on peer effects, studies documenting the insulating effects of extensive and closely knit peer networks, and research on the contextual effects of the school environment. More generally, the results suggest that adolescent friendship networks and the school climate are key contexts in which youth develop expectations for the future.



Friendship networks Life expectancy Perceived early fatality Schools Social context Early death Survival expectations Neighborhood context Future expectations Exchange networks Problem behaviors Delinquent peers Social networks Youth


1573-6601 Zimmerman, Gregory M Rees, Carter Farrell, Chelsea Journal article J Youth Adolesc. 2016 Jun 20.

Reference Type

Journal Article

Journal Title

Journal of Youth and Adolescence


Zimmerman, Gregory M.
Rees, Carter
Farrell, Chelsea

Year Published


Volume Number


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June 20, 2016



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