Transmission of Work Ethic in African-American Families and Its Links with Adolescent Adjustment

Bora Lee, Jenny Padilla, Susan M. McHale

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


A strong work ethic generally has positive implications for achievements in work and school settings, but we know little about how it develops. This study aimed to describe the intra-familial transmission of work ethic and the associations between work ethic and adjustment in African American youth. Mothers, fathers, and two adolescent siblings (Mage = 14.1 years) in 158 families were interviewed on two occasions. Path models revealed that fathers’ work ethic was positively linked with older siblings’ work ethic, which in turn was linked with more positive youth adjustment in the domains of school functioning and externalizing and internalizing problems. Moreover, the results indicated that the work ethics of older siblings, but not parents, was linked to those of younger siblings. The discussion focuses on the importance of African American fathers and siblings in youth adjustment and how work ethic may promote positive development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2278-2291
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Youth and Adolescence
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Nov 1

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was funded by a grant from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (R01-HD32336) to Susan M. McHale and Ann C. Crouter, Co-Principal Investigators. A portion of this paper was presented at the 2015 Biennial Meeting of Society for Research on Child Development in Philadelphia, PA.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015, Springer Science+Business Media New York.


  • African American
  • Family
  • Fathers
  • Positive youth development
  • Siblings
  • Work ethic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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