Social Relations in Youth : Determinants and Consequences of Relations to Parents, Teachers, and Peers

Abstract: The thesis includes three empirical studies on Swedish children’s well-being. Central themes in these studies are how children’s social relations are influenced by and influence other dimensions of their well-being. The studies are framed in the introductory chapter, which includes an international comparison of children’s social relations. Study I analyses whether relations with parents and teachers are associated with the adolescent’s social background and whether the positive consequences of having strong relations are more important for disadvantaged adolescents. The results, based on nationally representa­tive survey data, confirm that strong social relations are conducive to adolescents’ school and psychological outcomes, and show that dis­advan­taged adolescents have weaker relations with parents and teachers. Furthermore, these results imply that relations with teachers are of particular importance for disadvantaged adolescents’ outcomes, while parental relations are equally important for both advantaged and dis­advantaged adolescents. Study II investigates the social side of consumption by studying the association between adolescents’ economic resources and their relations with peers. Analyses on nationally representative survey data; which include children’s own responses, as well as information from parents and register data, show that economic resources, in terms of both house­hold economy and adolescents’ own resources, are positively associated with peer relations. Study III analyses whether final grades in compulsory school are influenced by the sex composition in school classes. Analyses using register data show that boys’ grades are negatively affected by the share of girls in school classes in typical female school subjects. Girls’ grades are negatively affected by the share of boys with highly educated parents. The proposed explanation behind the results is that sex composition effects are due to negative social comparisons with the other sex.