Effects of Race and Adolescent Decision-Making on Status Attainment and Self-Esteem

Document Type

Journal Article


Sociology and Anthropology

Publication Date



This paper tests a structural model of the impact of life choices on self-esteem. Four sets of variables are included in the model: ascribed statuses and other background variables, life-choice variables, current statuses, and self-esteem. Data from 11,810 respondents (2,391 African Americans, 9,419 Caucasians) are analyzed to explore the impact of the background variables and current status on self-esteem and to assess whether the life-choice variables intervene between the background variables and self-esteem. The African American respondents demonstrated just as high, if not higher, self-esteem than the White respondents. The most influential contributing factors included education and positive reasons for leaving home (school, job, or relationship).