The Evolution, Contributions, and Prospects of the Youth Development Study: An Investigation in Life Course Social Psychology

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24 Scopus citations


Grounded in social structure and personality, life course, and status attainment perspectives of social psychology, the Youth Development Study (YDS) has followed a cohort of teenagers from the beginning of high school through their mid-thirties. Evidence for the effective exercise of agency derives from diverse adolescent work patterns leading to outcomes that are consistent with youth's earlier goals, motivations, and resources. Thus, the socioeconomic career begins well before the completion of formal education. The YDS has revealed multiple pathways of contemporary transition to adulthood, the circumstances surrounding parental residential and financial support to their transitioning children, and the cessation of deviant behavior as adult roles are acquired. Agentic pathways during this period are significant precursors of success during subsequent economic downturn. The new YDS Second Generation Study is well poised to address the impacts of parental trajectories on the adjustment and well-being of children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5-27
Number of pages23
JournalSocial Psychology Quarterly
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: An earlier version of this address was presented at the 2011 Meeting of the American Sociological Association, Las Vegas, Nevada, August 23, 2011. The Youth Development Study is supported by Grant Number R01HD044138 from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development.

Funding Information:
It was previously supported by the National Institute of Mental Health (R01MH42843). The content is solely the responsibility of the author and does not represent the official views of the sponsors.


  • agency
  • life course social psychology
  • social structure and personality
  • status attainment
  • transition to adulthood


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