The timing of entry into adult roles and changes in trajectories of problem behaviors during the transition to adulthood

Monica J. Martin, Shelley A. Blozis, Daria K. Boeninger, April S. Masarik, Rand D. Conger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations

Abstract

This study of a cohort of 451 adolescents examined associations between trajectories of problem behaviors and the timing of entry into work, marriage, and parenthood. We used data from 12 assessments across adolescence, through emerging adulthood and into young adulthood. We employed 2-phase mixed-effects models to estimate growth in substance use and antisocial behavior across adolescence, deceleration in the period that follows, and the change point that marks the transition between the 2 phases. We then examined the degree to which the timing of entry into a specific adult role was associated with change in problem behaviors and the change point between the 2 phases. We hypothesized that earlier entries into adult roles would be associated with earlier transitions to the decline in problem behaviors generally observed during adulthood but that later entries would be associated with more quickly declining rates of problem behaviors during adulthood. As proposed, earlier entries into marriage and parenthood predicted earlier transitions to declining trajectories in both substance use and antisocial behavior during adulthood. The findings also indicated that delayed marriage and parenthood were associated with more quickly decreasing rates of change in substance use, but not antisocial behavior, during adulthood. Thus, the results are consistent with the idea that substance use decreases earlier but not as quickly during adulthood for those with earlier entries into marriage and parenthood. However, the timing of entry into work did not predict trajectory changes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2473-2484
Number of pages12
JournalDevelopmental psychology
Volume50
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - 2014

Keywords

  • Antisocial behavior
  • Problem behaviors
  • Role transitions
  • Substance use
  • Turning points

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