Despite the rapid and dramatic changes in the structure of the American family over the past 30 years (e.g., divorce, single parenting), consumer researchers have largely neglected the issue of how alternative family forms influence consumer behavior. Our initial inquiry into this area finds that young adults reared in disrupted families are more materialistic and exhibit higher levels of compulsive consumption than young adults reared in intact families. Furthermore, we show that the relationship between family structure and compulsive consumption is partially mediated by both the amount of resources available within the family and the degree of family stress. We also find that the impact of family disruption on family stress is moderated by socioeconomic status. We conclude by proposing an agenda for future research that considers the antecedents, processes, and consequences of alternative family structures as they relate to consumer behavior.

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