Family Structure, Transitions and Psychiatric Disorders Among Puerto Rican Children

Olga Santesteban-Echarri, Ruth E. Eisenberg, Hector R. Bird, Glorisa J. Canino, Cristiane S. Duarte

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


This paper examines whether family structure and its transitions are associated with internalizing and externalizing psychiatric disorders among Puerto Rican-origin children. It uses longitudinal data (three waves) from the Boricua Youth Study, which includes probability samples of children in the South Bronx (New York) and San Juan (Puerto Rico) (n = 2,142). We also examine factors which may explain how family structure and transitions may be related to child psychiatric disorders. Our results show that for both internalizing and externalizing disorders there were no significant differences between children of cohabiting (biological or step) parents or of single parents compared to children of married biological parents. In Puerto Rico only, transitioning once from a two-parent family to a single-parent family was related to child internalizing disorders. Family transitions were not associated with externalizing disorders at either site. Context may be an important factor shaping the risk that family dissolution is followed by an internalizing disorder among children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3417-3429
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Child and Family Studies
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Cohabitation
  • Externalizing disorders
  • Family structure
  • Family transitions
  • Internalizing disorders

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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