Child, Youth, and Family Studies, Department of


Date of this Version



Journal of Comparative Family Studies, 40:3 (2009), pp. 475-492.


Although there is a robust literature supporting the empirical generalization that parental conflict is related to childhood problems, the research has primarily studied European American populations in the U.S. There is minimal research that investigates the relationship between marital distress and child outcomes in other cultures (Bradford et al., 2004; Buehler et al., 1997; Krishnakumar & Buehler, 2000; Shek, 2001), including a specific lack of knowledge regarding Latino populations. This is a significant gap in the literature since Latino children make up the largest minority group in the U.S., accounting for 16% of children younger than 18 years of age (Flores, Fuentes-Afflick, Barbot, Carter-Pokras, Claudio, & Lara, et al., 2002). The omission of Latinos is particularly relevant since there are currently over 37 million Latinos in the U.S., which comprises over 13% of the population (US Census Bureau, 2002). By the year 2030, Latinos are estimated to make up over 20% of the population (US Census Bureau, 2002). With this population growing rapidly in American society, it is important to better understand the dynamics of Latino families, including the relationship between marital conflict and offspring outcomes. The study is further justified given the relevance of the Brazilian population. Currently, Brazil is the fifth-largest country with respect to population and geography in the world. It is also the largest country, both geographically and populationwise in South America. Consequently, it is important to understand this country.

In addition, no research to date has examined the effect of marital relationships on child outcomes among younger children. The majority of studies investigating how parental conflict impacts child development is generalized to children six years of age and over (Depner et al, 1992). In addition, these ages coincide with expected detection of child adjustment problems. With the national median age for the emergence of socio^emotional and behavioral problems being approximately seven years (Zill & Schoenbom, 1990), it would be helpful to study children who are younger. In the context of the existing literature, the purpose of this study was to assess the impact of the marital relationship on the outcome of four to five year old children in a Latino population.