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15-07-2020 | Empirical Research | Uitgave 9/2020

Journal of Youth and Adolescence 9/2020

Family Socioeconomic Status and Adolescents’ Academic Achievement: The Moderating Roles of Subjective Social Mobility and Attention

Journal of Youth and Adolescence > Uitgave 9/2020
Feng Zhang, Ying Jiang, Hua Ming, Chunyan Yang, Silin Huang
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Adolescents with low family socioeconomic status (SES) often have lower academic achievement than their peers with high family SES. However, less is known about the personal buffering mechanisms on the relationship between low family SES and academic achievement for youth. To address adolescents’ academic achievement gap related to family SES, this study aimed to test whether family SES predicted adolescents’ academic achievement and whether adolescents’ subjective social mobility and attention moderated this relationship with longitudinal data. Valid participants included 827 adolescents (Mage = 12.30 years, range: 11–14 years, SD = 0.87, and 40.99% girls) from five township public schools in China. The results showed that family SES (comprising parents’ education, parents’ occupation, and family income) was positively correlated with adolescents’ academic achievement (i.e., Chinese and math) when controlling for prior academic achievement. The positive associations between family SES and both Chinese and math achievement 9 months later were nonsignificant for adolescents with higher levels of subjective social mobility. In addition, the positive effect of family SES on Chinese achievement 9 months later was nonsignificant among adolescents with higher levels of attention. In conclusion, low family SES impairs adolescents’ Chinese and math achievement, high levels of adolescents’ subjective social mobility can buffer the adverse effects of low family SES on both Chinese and math achievement, and high levels of adolescents’ attention can buffer the adverse effects of family SES on Chinese achievement but not on math achievement. These findings may emphasize the significance of developing differential interventions aimed at specific subject achievement for adolescents with low family SES.

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