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Jennifer Augustine

Professor Augustine awarded the Best Graduate Student Paper Award

Congratulations to Jennifer Augustine who was awarded the Best Graduate Student Paper Award from the American Sociological Association Section on Children and Youth for her paper "Mothers' Education, Family Structure, and the Diverging Destinies of U.S. Children." Professor Augustine received her award at the Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association in Denver, Colorado.

Paper Abstract

Inequality in the U.S. continues to rise. To explain this phenomenon, scholars have increasingly emphasized the role of family structure, which is strongly correlated with mothers’ education and has well-established implications for children’s development and mobility. Professor Augustine's study builds on this conceptual approach. Yet she also argues that mothers’ education is not just important for family formation. It also shapes the extent to which family structure matters to parenting and the early achievement of children. Using data from the NICHD Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development (n = 1308) and a longitudinal moderated path model, Professor Augustine's study finds that family structure was consequential to the parenting of less educated women, but not more educated women. As a result, children in single, cohabiting, and step families had lower achievement scores at first grade and fewer academic gains during elementary school than children with two married biological parents, but only when their mothers had less education. These findings persisted beyond controls for income, fathers’ education, mothers’ employment characteristics, and other sources of endogeneity and convey why mothers’ education matters to the status attainment of children today.