Childhood Risk Factors and Young Adult Competence

Using the most diverse, prospectively studied, multi-national sample to date, this study will generate empirical findings to develop a model of child- and family-level mediators and culture-level moderators of the role of childhood risk factors and young adult competence and maladaptation. Cross-cultural comparisons will inform domestic models of young adult maladaptation. The proposed research builds on the ongoing Parenting Across Cultures longitudinal study that began in 2008 with recruitment of a sample of 1,417 8-year-old children and their mothers and fathers from nine countries (China, Colombia, Italy, Jordan, Kenya, Philippines, Sweden, Thailand, and the United States). We have since assessed families annually through interviews with mothers, fathers, and children about the parent-child relationship, the child’s adjustment, attitudes and beliefs, and cultural values, with 90 percent retention of the original sample. During the next project period, the original child participants will be 17 to 21 years old, a crucial period for understanding family and cultural influences on decisions, risks, competencies, and opportunities. We will conduct interviews annually with young adults, their parents, and a friend to assess health-compromising and risky behaviors as well as competencies in important domains of education, work, and intimate partnerships.

We address three aims: (1) We will test the hypothesis that parenting influences on impulsive risky behaviors are indeed universal, but only when the construct of “risky behaviors” is identified in a culturally-specific way. We will create profiles of health-compromising and risky behaviors during the transition to adulthood that are situated in cultural contexts that vary widely with respect to economic factors, norms about the acceptability of different behaviors, and opportunities for engaging in risky behaviors. (2) We will test the hypothesis that cultural contexts moderate associations between early parenting factors and the development of both competence and maladaptation during the transition to adulthood. (3) We will use empirical findings to develop a broad model of child-level and family-level mediators of links between childhood risk factors and young-adult competence and maladaptation. Addressing these three aims in the most diverse, prospectively studied, multi-national sample to date will have major public health implications because this knowledge will inform scientific understanding of the etiology of health-compromising and risky behaviors during the transition to adulthood. This new understanding will inform intervention practices to improve population health and well-being.

Working Group Participants

  1. Liane Alampay, Ateneo de Manila University, Manila, Philippines
  2. Suha Al-Hassan, Hashemite University, Amman, Jordan; and Emirates College for Advanced Education, Abu Dhabi, UAE
  3. Dario Bacchini, University of Naples, “Federico II,” Naples, Italy
  4. Marc H. Bornstein, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Md., USA
  5. Lei Chang, University of Macau, Macau, China
  6. Kirby Deater-Deckard, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Mass., USA
  7. Laura DiGiunta, Rome University ‘LaSapienza’, Rome, Italy
  8. Kenneth A. Dodge, Duke University, Durham, N.C., USA
  9. Jennifer W. Godwin, Duke University, Durham, N.C., USA
  10. Jennifer E. Lansford, Duke University, Durham, N.C., USA
  11. Patrick S. Malone, Duke University, Durham, N.C., USA
  12. Paul Oburu, Maseno University, Kisumu, Kenya
  13. Concetta Pastorelli, Rome University ‘La Sapienza,’ Rome, Italy
  14. Ann Skinner, Duke University, Durham, N.C., USA
  15. Emma Sorbring, University West, Trollhättan, Sweden
  16. Laurence Steinberg, Temple University, Philadelphia, Penn., USA
  17. Sombat Tapanya, Chiang Mai University, Chiang Mai, Thailand
  18. Liliana M. Uribe Tirado, Universidad San Buenaventura, Medellin, Colombia