Sociology, Department of


Date of this Version



J Youth Stud. 2015 ; 18(8): 1015–1034.


© 2015 Taylor & Francis


Homeless youth represent a vulnerable and understudied population. Little research has prospectively identified factors that may place youth at risk for experiencing homelessness. The current study utilizes data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth-97 (NLSY-97) to examine predictors of experiencing homelessness as a young adult (before age 25). The NLSY-97 includes a nationally representative sample of 8,984 youth. Data were first collected from these youth when they were between the ages of 12 to 18 years. The current study examined whether individual and family risk factors reported during adolescence predict homelessness by the age of 25. The findings showed that multiple runaway episodes, non-traditional family structure, lower educational attainment, and parental work limitations due to health increased the risk of homelessness. A permissive parenting style and being Hispanic protected against homelessness. This study offers unique insight into risk and protective factors for youth homelessness, and has important clinical implications.