Abstract

Using data from the National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988, we identify parental age as influential in the parental provision of economic resources, social capital and cultural capital to adolescents, as well as in parental educational expectations for their children. At the bivariate level, the relationship is curvilinear, suggesting that having comparatively young or old parents is disadvantageous to teenagers, at least with regard to resource allocation. With controls for socioeconomic background and family structure, however, the pattern typically becomes positive and linear: as the age of the parent rises, so too does the transmission of resources to adolescent offspring. These patterns hold for most economic, social and cultural resources, although the pattern is strongest for economic ones and weakest — albeit still significant — for more interactional ones. Although maternal age is the primary focus of this article, supplementary analyses also confirm a generally positive relationship between paternal age and parental resources. These results suggest that parental age may warrant attention similar to that given to family structure, race and gender.

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