Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. Edsel L. Erickson

Second Advisor

Dr. Herbert Smith

Third Advisor

Dr. Robert Oswald

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Robert Brashear


There is considerable variation in the estimation of youth, ages 12-17, who run away from home in America. This study using national self-report data estimates the proportion of youth who run away between the ages of 12-17 and the extent to which the loss of a parent contributes to running away by youth. Different types of parent role loss are examined as well as the effects of which parent is absent on running away.

Information on running away is assessed in a National Center for Health Statistics survey of approximately 6,768 youth ages 12-17. The proportion of youth who reported that they had run away one or more times was 9.1%. Other statistics on runaways are reported for differences in family income, gender and ethnic identity. Of these differences only family income is related to youth running away with more youth leaving as income increases.

In this study, it was found that the loss of a parent by divorce resulted in a significantly higher proportion of youth who had run away than the proportion of runaways in the total sample. The death of a parent did not increase the probability of youth running away. The proportion of runaways who experienced the long term illness of a parent was just slightly higher and not significantly higher than the sample norm. In the cases of parent illness and death it was found that the running away was more likely when the mother became ill or died than if the father became ill or died.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access

Included in

Sociology Commons