Family structure histories and high school completion: Evidence from a population based registry.


  • Lisa Strohschein University of Alberta
  • Noralou Roos University of Manitoba
  • Marni Brownell University of Manitoba



family structure, educational outcomes


The purpose of this paper was to use a life course approach to investigate the association between family structure histories and high school completion. Using data from a population-based data registry for the 1984 Manitoba birth cohort, we selected a sample of children born or adopted at birth into a married or cohabiting two-parent household (n = 9,493) and derived family structure histories for each child up until the age of 18. Marital disruption occurred for 1,876 children (19.8%), with 531 children (5.6%) of the total sample experiencing multiple changes in family structure. Logistic regression models showed that children who experienced marital disruption before the age of 18 were significantly less likely to complete high school than children in intact households, and that children who were younger at the time of a first change in marital status were more vulnerable than children who were older when their parents’ marriage ended. Further work is needed to elucidate the pathways that link family structure histories to child outcomes.