Article

Why Marriage Matters for Child Wellbeing

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Abstract

Marriage between two parents, compared with other family living arrangements, appears, on average, to enhance children’s wellbeing and development. Some of the positive association between marriage and children’s wellbeing comes from positive associations between marriage and other things that also contribute to children’s wellbeing. David Ribar first sets up a standard economic rational-choice model to show that, all else equal, marriage should produce advantages that can improve children’s wellbeing, such as better coordination between parents and economies of scale that make limited resources go further. Digging more deeply, he then examines specific mechanisms through which marriage may operate to improve children’s lives. Some of these have been well studied, including income, fathers’ involvement, parents’ physical and mental health, parenting quality, social supports, health insurance, home ownership, parents’ relationships, bargaining power, and family stability. Others have received less attention, including net wealth, borrowing constraints, and informal insurance through social networks. Many of these mechanisms could be bolstered by public policy; that is, when they are lacking in children’s lives, public policy could potentially provide substitutes—greater cash assistance, more generous health insurance, better housing, more help for caregivers, etc. Yet studies of child wellbeing that control for the indirect effects of these mechanisms typically find that direct positive associations remain between children’s wellbeing and marriage, strongly suggesting that marriage is more than the sum of these particular parts. Thus, Ribar argues, the advantages of marriage for children’s wellbeing are likely to be hard to replicate through policy interventions other than those that bolster marriage itself. © 2015 by The Trustees of Princeton University, All rights reserved.

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... Rising rates of separation, divorce, and remarriage, and increases in motherled households in places including New Zealand, have been studied by many researchers of all political, philosophical, theological, sociological and economic stripes over the last three decades. Some researchers have approached this shift in family form with concern, among them Haskins (2015), Ribar (2015), and Schroeder, Osgood and Oghia (2010). Some books, written by authors adopting particular conservative and/or Christian perspectives, have warned separating couples of the spiritual harm they cause to their children by breaking a 'covenant' such as that which heterosexual marriage is seen as, by some. ...
... The coupling of marriage with stability, security and safety, terms deemed preferable for the sustenance of a stable, ordered society and the wellbeing of those within society and within each family, are themes evident in many studies. Various forms of risk to those in motherled households are reported by authors such as Haskins (2015), Ribar (2015) and Schroeder, Osgood and Oghia (2010). These and other authors, including drug and alcohol use, delinquent behaviour in children, and poverty (Gahler & Garriga, 2012). ...
... The roots of this increase in children born to single mothers may be many and are often disputed; however, one result is clear from several reports (Lundberg, Pollak, & Stearns, 2016;McLanahan & Jencks, 2015, Spring;Ribar, 2015;Waldfogel, Craigie, & Brooks-Gunn, 2010;Wilcox & Wang, 2017): Many children born and raised in these family situations are, on average, likely to receive less financial and emotional support than they would otherwise be able to take advantage of. Further, the children do not fare as well as the children of dual-parent families in terms of cognitive abilities and emotional health as observed in internalizing and externalizing behaviors, and also are not as physically healthy as children of married couples. ...
... Studies have found a number of reasons that might explain the pathways or the connections between fragile families and lower child well-being (Masarik & Conger, 2017;Osborne & McLanahan, 2007;Ribar, 2015;Waldfogel et al., 2010). Probabilistically, these factors also reduce the likelihood that the development of the psychological self will progress along healthy lines. ...
... The less investigated of these factors are the effects of family structure and family support on transactional sex. Many studies have documented the influence of family structure on youth and adolescents' outcomes, such as academic achievement, health and well-being [40][41][42]. Specifically, single-parent and polygamous families are associated with negative child outcomes [43,44]. We posit that the nuclear family structure and family support could be considered as protective factors against risky sexual behaviour of young people. ...
... Studies have shown that material, housing and food deprivation are associated with transactional sex [36][37][38]. Besides this, polygamous family is characterised by parental conflicts and other family dysfunctions, which are detrimental to the well-being of a child [40][41][42]. The tumultuous environment in a polygamous family may not be ideal for child upbringing and could negatively affect the outcome of the child. ...
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Abstract Background The reasons for the persistence of risky sexual behaviours among adolescents and young adults in sub-Saharan Africa despite the increasing knowledge about the associated risks continue to attract scholarly debates. Drawing from a cross-sectional study conducted among male and female Nigerian university students, we examined the relationship between family structure, family support and transactional sex. Methods A pre-validated questionnaire was administered to 800 male and female students selected using stratified sampling; however, we performed the analysis on 630 participants who had ever engaged in sex. Transactional sex was operationalised as self-reporting of giving or receiving money, gifts or favour in exchange for sex. We fitted a list-wise logistic regression model to examine the relationship between family structure, family support and transactional sex while controlling for essential covariates. Results Of the 630 participants included in the analysis, 17.9% had given and 23.8% had received money, gift or favour in exchange for sex. Our bivariate analysis shows that individuals from polygamous families had higher odds of reporting that they have ever given (AOR: 1.89; CI: 1.05–3.39) or received (AOR: 1.85; CI: 1.85–3.19) money, gift or favour in exchange for sex; however, the relationship was not statistically significant after controlling for relevant covariates. After controlling for essential covariates, the odds of giving or receiving money, gift or favour in exchange for sex was 56% lower in individuals who received adequate family support compared to those who received no or insufficient family support. Conclusion In conclusion, this paper lends support to the assertion that family structure and family support are protective factors against transactional sex among adolescents and young adults. Future surveys need to include a larger sample in order to explore the effect of single-parent and polygamous family on transactional sex in Nigeria where family formation is changing rapidly.
... rowing up in a family with a stable marriage brings many advantages that contribute to a child's subjective wellbeing including a predictable income, presence of a father, parents blessed with mental and physical health, quality parenting and extended family (Ribar, 2015). By contrast, insecurity arising from divorce has been observed to damage childrens' school exam performance (ComRes, 2014), cause higher levels of fear and preoccupation, diminished subjective wellbeing and self-esteem (Amato, 2010), and impeded ability later in adulthood to trust others (Bartell, 2013, 342-3). ...
Conference Paper
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This presentation explores the attitudes, religiosity, self-esteem and Psychological Type Buddhist teens in Britain have experienced in correspondence with going through a parental divorce. A quantitative study compared attitudes of teens with divorced parents with those from intact families. A variety of attitude statements concerning school, RE, family, friends and religion were rated for levels of agreement by 413 self-identifying Buddhists aged between 13 and 20. Buddhists were found to have an average divorce rate lower (31%) than the average divorce rate in Britain (42%), although divorce rate for Buddhists from heritage families was much lower (18%) and for converts higher (51%) than the average. Buddhists from 'broken' families were generally less positive in their attitudes towards school & authority and had lower self-esteem. Any upside of divorce came in the form of motivation to ordain (for late teens), more sense of empowerment to solve problems in the world, increased spirituality and less reliance on the internet and TV. Divorce in Buddhists did not damage affective religiosity or attitude to RE, even for low income families, but changed the manner of religious engagement from the Psychological Type preference of Judging (J) to Perceiving (P)-which is reflected in certain attitudes to authority and morality. This is different from findings in Christianity where disillusionment with church followed divorce. The paper reflects how RE teachers might rekindle interest in religion for teens left disillusioned by divorce and to leverage adversity to stimulate them to become more spiritually reflexive and mature.
... controlled. This research results in line with the study carried out byRibar (2015) on the relationship between parental marriage and adolescent happiness. According to Ribar, marital quality is a strong factor for adolescent happiness because it has an element of relationship stability. ...
Article
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The COVID-19 pandemic has led to large-scale behavioral changes and a significant psychological burden. This study aims to determine the effect of parent-adolescent relationships and parental marital quality on adolescents’ happiness during the pandemic. The research subjects were male and female adolescents between the ages of 18-21 that studied at state and private universities and lived with their parents. A binary logistic regression technique was used to examine the independence of the association between perceived parent-adolescent relationship, parental marital quality, sex, and allowance with happiness during the pandemic. The logistic regression analysis results showed that only two independent variables, namely perceived parent-adolescent relationship and parental marital quality, made a unique statistically significant contribution to the model. However, the strongest predictor was perceived parental marital quality, which recorded an odds ratio of 7.25. Keywords: adolescent happiness, parent-adolescent relationship, parental marital quality, covid-19 pandemic
... The author argues that mothers in fragile families experience higher rates of poverty and material hardship than their married counterparts. As well as, Ribar (2015) examines mechanisms through which marriage may operate to improve children's lives. Some of these are income, fathers' involvement, parents' physical and mental health, parenting quality, social supports, health insurance, home ownership, parents' relationships, bargaining power and family stability. ...
Article
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Purpose The purpose of this paper is to investigate the role of family structure on child labor by comparing children of nuclear families headed by the father with children of single-mother families headed by the divorced mother. Design/methodology/approach This paper uses data from Brazilian urban areas provided by the Brazilian Demographic Census of 2010. The empirical approach consists of the estimation of three treatment effect models: the Average Treatment Effect, IV Treatment Effect and Two-Stage Estimator proposed by Lewbel (2012). Findings The main findings show that children of single-mother families headed by divorced mothers are more likely to work, compared to children living with both parents. This paper found evidence of a direct effect of family structure parents’ determinant on child participation in labor. The main hypothesis is that the absence of the father paired with exposure to family stress arising from marital dissolution is an indicator toward child labor. Practical implications This study implies that in order to combat child labor effectively, it is important to understand deeply its several causes and consider ruptures in family structure, such as divorce, as one of these factors. In addition, location and family’s characteristics also play a role on the decision of child labor. For instance, boys living at metropolis areas have less chance to work. Family’s head education and non-work income affects positively the child well-being by reducing the probability of child labor. On the other hand, the number of siblings increases the chance of child labor. Finally, the results of this study suggest policies to raise awareness among parents about the negative effects of child labor on children during both childhood and adulthood, and that social policies need to act beyond legislation and enforcement, but including family mobilization. Originality/value This paper estimates the impact of family structure on child labor using an empirical approach to deal with the endogeneity problem of the treatment.
... As it relates specifically to challenges faced by children from single-parent households, positive changes are more likely to occur as school professionals recognize the uniqueness of each single-parent family including both the unique risks and opportunities within each family. School professionals must be committed to a notion that a focus solely on family structure while ignoring parenting practice, parenting style, the parent-child relationship and other related constructs falls short of seeing potential family strengths and areas for intervention for each unique family (Ribar, 2015). ...
Article
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A substantial body of research focuses on student achievement and the characteristics of schools that regularly produce it. While academic achievement is an important variable to measure, student engagement serves as a related and highly influential variable that merits more attention, particularly as it relates to preventative interventions. Student engagement mediates and moderates the relationship between parental influences and academic achievement and school completion. Research examining influences on engagement have often utilized a familiar concept known as parent involvement. Traditional research on parent involvement is school-centric, meaning it is focused on parents’ interactions with and attendance at school events. Unfortunately, this school-centric approach fails to incorporate the conjoint influence of parenting practices, parenting styles, parent-child relationship quality and family structure. New research that examines non-school parental and familial factors influencing student engagement is needed. This article maps the conceptual territory for future research and enhanced practice that is centered on student engagement and the important role that parents and families can play in fostering positive academic outcomes.
... Families headed by married parents increase economic well-being because marriage seems to motivate men to work harder, more strategically, and more successfully as well as help them avoid behaviors-such as excess drinking and criminal activity-that might limit their prospects at work (Ahituv and Lerman 2007;Gorman 1999). Both boys and girls raised in intact, married homes are likely to acquire more human capital-that is, more of the skills, habits, and values conducive to personal and economic success-and have access to more social capital (meaning institutions and social ties that connect members with educational resources, job opportunities, and other benefits) than their peers in unmarried or unstable households (Lerman and Wilcox 2014;McLanahan and Sandefur 1994;Ribar 2015). Families headed by married parents are also likely to enjoy higher levels of income and assets and to gain more from economies of scale than single-parent families (Lerman 2011;Wilcox et al. 2011). ...
Article
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Past research has examined various state-level measures that predict state economic growth and other economic and social indicators. This research has largely ignored the potential role of family structure in contributing to state-level outcomes, despite the extensive literature on links between family structure and economic outcomes at the individual level. We estimated a state-level panel model and found that both the proportion of adults and the proportion of parents who are married are strongly related to important state-level economic outcomes, including economic growth, median household income, median personal income, and poverty.
... Unexpectedly, findings indicate that marriage, cohabitation, separation, and spouse disease increase the risk of co-occurrence of anemia and malnutrition. Thus, there is a need for further investigation since studies have shown a positive relationship between marriage and the well-being and development of children, Ribar (2015). ...
Article
Anemia and malnutrition among under-five children are some of the challenges to public health in Ethiopia. This study aims to determine the socio-economic, demographic, and geographical risk factors that increase the prevalence of the co-occurrence of anemia and malnutrition among under-five children in Ethiopia. The Ethiopia Demographic and Health Survey data for the survey years 2011 and 2016 were used. A Bayesian hierarchical mixed model with a stochastic partial differential equation was adopted to understand the spatial patterns of co-occurrence of these ailments in Ethiopia. The significant risk factors are gender, maternal education, birth order, preceding births, contraceptive use, vaccination, marital status, distance to a health facility, and birth weight. Findings revealed more vulnerability among children less than twenty months and existing geographical disparity with a higher burden of the prevalence of the co-occurrences of anemia and malnutrition in the North-East regions. For cost-effective intervention, policies and programs that improve individual-level risk factors of parents are a more promising approach to tackle these ailments in high-prevalent regions than the ones on the children and should be of utmost priority in the Noth-East region of the country.
... Studies often fail to distinguish transitions that involve marriage from those that do not, implicitly assuming that transitions into and out of unions affect children's well-being similarly. This is inconsistent with a large literature indicating that a parent's marriage is associated with positive outcomes for children (e.g., Ribar, 2015)-although any causal underpinnings of this association remain an active topic of debate-and with evidence that children's access to economic and parenting resources varies depending on the nature of the transition (e.g., Osborne et al., 2012). In addition, as noted previously, the associations between instability and poorer well-being may vary by transition type (see also Lee & McLanahan, 2015;Ryan et al., 2015). ...
Article
This article reviews key developments in the past decade of research on divorce, repartnering, and stepfamilies. Divorce rates are declining overall, but they remain high and have risen among people older than age 50. Remarriage rates have declined, but the overall proportion of marriages that are remarriages is rising. Transitions in parents' relationships continue to be associated with reduced child well‐being, but shifting patterns of divorce and repartnering during the past decade have also reshaped the family lives of older adults. We review research on the predictors and consequences of these trends and consider what they reveal about the changing significance of marriage as an institution. Overall, recent research on divorce, repartnering, and stepfamilies points to the persistence of marriage as a stratified and stratifying institution and indicates that the demographic complexity of family life is here to stay.
... One of the factors that influence adolescent psychological well-being is the role of family and parents. In general, parental marriage contributes to the well-being of children (Ribar, 2015) because of the financial support between husband and wife, social interaction between family members, and stability of the relationship between parents who are bound in marriage commitments. Shek et al. (2014) found that parental marital conditions, family functioning, relationships between children and parents, and communication patterns affect the level of psychological well-being of adolescents. ...
Article
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Previous findings on the relationship between parental marital quality and adolescent psychological well-being are inconsistent; thus, we conducted a meta-analysis of 23 relevant studies. Results revealed significant associations between: (1) positive parental marital quality and high psychological well-being; (2) positive parental marital quality and low psychological wellbeing; (3) negative parental marital quality and high psychological wellbeing; (4) negative parental marital quality and low psychological well-being. Future research implications will be discussed in this article. Subjects: Adolescent Development; Adulthood; Parenting and Families Keywords: marital quality; psychological well-being; meta-analysis Hepi Wahyuningsih ABOUT THE AUTHORS Hepi Wahyuningsih is currently lecturer and researcher in Departement of Psychology and Master of Professional Psychology at Faculty of Psychology and Socio-Cultural Studies, Universitas Islam Indonesia. She graduated from of Doctoral Program of Psychology, Universitas Gadjah Mada with dissertation focusing on marital quality. She teaches developmental psychology , child abnormal psychology, family psychology, statistics, and research methodology .Her current research interest includes marital quality, marital commitment, religiosity, educational psychology, family psychology, and measurement development. Fitri Ayu Kusumaningrum is currently lecturer and researcher in Departement of Psychology at Faculty of Psychology and Socio-Cultural Studies, Universitas Islam Indonesia. Her research interest includes parenting in children and adolescents. She is active in many social activities involving training and workshop on parenting and other relevant works. Resnia Novitasari is currently lecturer and researcher in Departement of Psychology at Faculty of Psychology and Socio-Cultural Studies, Universitas Islam Indonesia. She teaches developmental psychology, child abnormal psychology , and early childhood psychology. Her research interest includes well-being in children and adolescents, attachment and parenting, special needs children, and bullying. PUBLIC INTEREST STATEMENT This meta-analysis demonstrates the importance of marital quality in adolescent development. It is found that positive marital quality is most strongly related to high psychological wellbeing. But the weighted mean obtained was not highly convincing because of publication bias. Publication bias occurs because studies of marital quality in positive concepts related to psychological well-being in positive concepts are only three studies. This shows the importance of research on the relationship of marital quality with adolescent psychological well-being in a positive concept. In this meta-analysis study also found a sufficient correlation between the marital quality and psychological well-being in a negative concept with a low publication bias. This shows that adolescents who have low psychological well-being because they perceive the quality of parental relationships is not good. Results also may imply that therapy should not only focus on adolescent, but also on directly dealing with their parent.
... Many researchers and policymakers have expressed concern about the growing number of children born to unmarried parents, especially among economically disadvantaged groups, because children born to unmarried parents have worse outcomes, on average, than children born to married parents (Brown 2010;Ribar 2015). An increasing share of disadvantaged children born to married parents were born following a nonmarital conception, and among whites, those midpregnancy marriages were more likely to dissolve. ...
Article
Conventional wisdom holds that births following the colloquially termed "shotgun marriage"-that is, births to parents who married between conception and the birth-are nearing obsolescence. To investigate trends in shotgun marriage, we matched North Carolina administrative data on nearly 800,000 first births among white and black mothers to marriage and divorce records. We found that among married births, midpregnancy-married births (our preferred term for shotgun-married births) have been relatively stable at about 10 % over the past quarter-century while increasing substantially for vulnerable population subgroups. In 2012, among black and white less-educated and younger women, midpregnancy-married births accounted for approximately 20 % to 25 % of married first births. The increasing representation of midpregnancy-married births among married births raises concerns about well-being among at-risk families because midpregnancy marriages may be quite fragile. Our analysis revealed, however, that midpregnancy marriages were more likely to dissolve only among more advantaged groups. Of those groups considered to be most at risk of divorce-namely, black women with lower levels of education and who were younger-midpregnancy marriages had the same or lower likelihood of divorce as preconception marriages. Our results suggest an overlooked resiliency in a type of marriage that has only increased in salience.
... They also declared to be happier than single people (Wadsworth, 2015). Additionally, it is argued that the positive qualities of marriage are carried over to children's emotional health, hence, marriage positively influences the life conditions and the psychological wellbeing of the children that are raised (Ribar, 2015). ...
Article
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Positive relationships are widely considered to be one of the pillars of well-being. Their boosting effect on emotional and physical health has repeatedly been documented by experimental and longitudinal studies. Despite their instrumental role, the existing literature does not offer systematic observations of their nature and characteristics. In this paper, we aim to explore the specific characteristics of positive relationships. We conducted a thorough research of the existing most recent literature and grouped our findings according to the following two research questions: (a) the kind of relationships that are positive in people's lives and, (b) the way positive relationships relate and support well-being. Our findings suggested that specific relationships are examined with respect to different age groups, e.g. peer relationships in adolescence or marital relationships in adulthood. All relationships described as positive at each developmental stage are correlated with wellbeing in various ways. Beyond the characteristics of people and the way they relate, relationships seem to contribute to wellbeing by sharing positive moments and events, being supportive with respect to autonomy and showing an attitude of interest and emotional engagement. In conclusion, we argue that while relationships seem to contribute to wellbeing, there is not yet an exhaustive list of ingredients that make the relationship “positive”. We suggest new ways to enhance the study of positive relationships as well as possible variables that have not yet been examined and could possibly enhance our understanding of positive relationships and their influence on wellbeing.
... The debate over the nuclear family has prompted a spate of studies on the effect of changing family structures and transitions on the health and wellbeing of children. This diverse, extensive literature has been comprehensively reviewed elsewhere (McLanahan, Donahue, and Haskins 2005;Ginther and Pollak 2004;Manning 2015;Amato 2014;Ribar 2015). In the review that follows, I will focus on the question of interest in this study, that is, the current relative well-being and development of children in nuclear families compared to other family arrangements. ...
Article
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Is the system of norms comprising traditional, natural marriage-featuring formally enacted, irrevocable, exclusive man/woman sexual union preceded by chastity-essential for children's development and well-being, as Catholic teaching asserts? Review of an extensive body of diverse research finds that, compared to children continuously living with two parents, married parents, or their own biological parents, children in other family arrangements consistently experience lower emotional well-being, physical health, and academic achievement. Competing research has variously attributed this difference to a lack of married parents, two parents, complementary man/woman parents, or family stability, but these possibilities have not previously been studied in combination. To address this question, family structure differences and determinants of child well-being (reverse coded to show child distress) were examined using the 2008-2018 National Health Interview Surveys (n = 82,635). Adjusted odds ratios (AOR) for child emotional problems were higher with less than two parents (AOR = 1.42, 95% CI 1.27-1.56), unmarried parents (1.46, 95% CI 1.31-1.61), unstable parents (1.55, 95% CI 1.27-1.76), or less than two biological parents (AOR = 1.70, 95% CI 1.55-2.87 for one biological parent; 4.77, 95% CI 3.95-5.77 for no biological parents). When combined in the same model, only the lack of joint biological parentage accounted for higher distress, with outcomes significantly worse without the biological father than without the biological mother (interaction AOR = 1.33, 95% CI 1.04-1.71). This evidence strongly supports the claim that maximum child development occurs only in the persistent care of both of the child's own biological parents. Marriage benefits children primarily by ensuring such care. Implications are discussed. Summary: Children raised apart from the care of both natural parents consistently experience lower developmental outcomes. Traditional, religious marriage norms-a lifelong, exclusive sexual union between man and woman-benefit children by establishing strong conditions that promote such care. More than any other family arrangement, marriage assures to children the care of their own mom and dad.
... Studije (Rosenfeld, 2010 (Ribar, 2015.). Djeca koja odrastaju u izvanbračnim zajednicama, u usporedbi s djecom iz bračnih zajednica, pokazuju niže rezultate na skali općenitog zdravlja, neovisno o spolu roditelja (Reczek i sur., 2016.). ...
Article
DEVELOPMENT OF CHILDREN IN SAME-SEX FAMILIES – FACTS, PREJUDICES AND THE ROLE OF SOCIETY Changes in the family structure which have been present in recent decades generated new forms of families, among which are same-sex families. These changes are mainly not accompanied by the same speed of changes in society through a change of the system of values, public perceptions and policies. Many same-sex couples raise children who were born in previous heterosexual relationships, realise parenthood through different reproduction techniques, and in some societies, which are more modern and mature than ours and which are pro-European and western oriented, adoption of children by same-sex couples was already legitimized a long time ago. A series of research studies connected to same-sex families and parenthood was conducted to date. The results of most scientific studies have shown that there are no significant changes between children who grow up in heterosexual unions and those who grow up in same-sex unions related to their mental and physical well-being, social competencies, behavioural adjustment, gender identity and role, sexual orientation, social relations and academic achievement. It seems that family processes, quality of parenthood and quality of the parent-child relationship influence the developmental outcomes far more than the family structure does. The influence of stigmatization seems to be controversial as the results are contradictory. The influence of stigmatization is negatively connected to mental health and quality of life of same-sex couples. In spite of that, their children develop into healthy persons in the homophobic society they grow up in. Nevertheless, society burdened by stereotypes and prejudice represents a certain social risk for same-sex families. Opposing scientific research which shows very few noticeable differences between the children of same-sex and heterosexual couples to social beliefs that are not based on scientific facts is important for the social survival of these different families. Scientific literature should be the only relevant factor in designing policies that position same-sex families within a wider social context. It is precisely due to this that this paper provides an overview of scientific research studies that are focused on the potential influences of same-sex unions on the children’s growing up,with an emphasis on the sexual and psychosocial development of the children. The presented results should form a basis for all discussions about the influence of same-sex parenthood on children and only they are relevant for policy-making based on scientific facts.
... Children living in families with two biological married parents, on average, tend to fare better cognitively and behaviorally and have better health than those in other types of households (McLanahan & Sawhill, 2015). Having two adults in the household is linked to the availability of more resources, such as time and money, and social resources and support, to spend or invest in children and share the work (and joy) of caring for children (Ribar, 2015). In 2019, 57% of all Hispanic children lived with two married parents (Payne, 2019), and 36% of low-income Hispanic children with at least one foreign-born parent and 11% of low-income Latin children with U.S-born parents live in married, twoparent household (Turner et al., 2015). ...
Article
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Hispanic children experience poverty at rates two to three times higher than white children. Latino households with children, in general, have high parental employment coupled with low levels of parental education and stagnant parental earnings relative to non-Latino peers. While many Latino children live in neighborhoods that do not have access to high-quality early education, Latino children, on average, are raised in a home environment that offers economic stability and security, the presence of two parents, and socially supported family and community networks. Furthermore, though Hispanic children’s school achievement outcomes lag behind those of their peers, their socio-emotional developmental outcomes are on the same level or better. Latino children are raised in environments with the ingredients needed to achieve their potential. We use this foundation to propose a strength-based framework for guiding policy investment on Latino children and families.
... Other studies have investigated the relationship between child wellbeing and: caregiver characteristics (Webster et al., 2019), maternal employment (Ha et al., 2015;Oddo & Ickes, 2018;Rashad & Sharaf, 2019) and marital status (Manning, 2015;McLanahan & Sawhill, 2015;Ribar, 2015). These studies found that maternal employment, marital status, caregiver characteristics and number of childcare arrangements were associated with child wellbeing. ...
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Childcare has an influence on child morbidity and survival. It has an effect on children’s development potential, especially during the first five years of life. This study examined the relationship between child care arrangements and the wellbeing of children under five years whose mothers worked away from home, using survey data collected from 804 households in Wakiso District of Central Uganda. Chi-squared tests and regression analysis were used to examine the association between child wellbeing and other explanatory variables, including child care arrangements. Results showed that 52% of the children were under the care of relatives and 17% were in multiple child care arrangements. Concerning caregivers, 95% were female, 61% were resident caregivers and only 7% had no formal education. Results further show that 17%, 3% and 7% of the children of the urban working women were stunted, wasted and underweight respectively. Child wellbeing varied significantly by sex of the caregiver, religion of the mother and household wealth. Children that had female caregivers, in the middle and rich wealth quantiles and those with Pentecostal or Seventh-day Adventist mothers had better health outcomes than other children. Interventions aimed at improving the health of children of employed women should enhance the socioeconomic status of households, especially those in the poorest category. The study highlights a need to provide childcare training for men, as well as the importance of overcoming barriers that deter men’s participation in childcare work.
... Unexpectedly, findings indicate that marriage, cohabitation, separation, and spouse diseased increases the risk of co-occurrence of anemia and malnutrition. Thus, there is a need for further investigation since studies have shown a positive relationship between marriage and the well-being and development of children, [50]. ...
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Background: Anemia and Malnutrition among under-five children are one of the major challenges to public health in Ethiopia. While anemia is responsible for delayed child development and growth, malnutrition is associated with the high infant mortality rate in Ethiopia. Method: This study aims to determine the socioeconomic, demographic, and geographical risk factors that simultaneously increase the co-occurrence of anemia and malnutrition among under-five children in Ethiopia. Geostatistical data was obtained from the Ethiopia Demographic and Health Survey for 2011 and 2016. A Bayesian hierarchical linear mixed model was adopted using the stochastic partial differential equation to estimate the spatial pattern of the co-occurrence of anemia and malnutrition in Ethiopia. Result: The findings revealed that gender, maternal education, number of children under five, birth order, preceding birth, contraceptive use, vaccination, marital status, birth weight, diarrhea, and fever are significant risk factors of the co-occurrence of anemia and malnutrition. The findings also reveal the vulnerability of under-five children to the co-occurrence of anemia and malnutrition within the first twenty months after birth and young maternal age. Regarding the geographical aspect, this study found a geographical disparity in the prevalence of anemia and malnutrition in Ethiopia. The highest burden of the co-occurrence of anemia and malnutrition lies in the Northern Gambela, Western Oromia, Northeast Benishangul-gumuz, Central and Northern Amhara, Southern Afar, and parts of Somali. Conclusion: These findings could be utilized by policymakers and intervention programs to simultaneously tackle and contain the prevalence of both anemia and malnutrition. For cost-effective intervention, policies and programs that improve individual-level risk factors of parents and caregivers are a more promising approach to tackle high prevalent regions than the ones on the children and should be considered as an utmost priority in the country.
... Child well-being and family well-being can be viewed as two separate constructs, yet family well-being factors often shape the nature of children's well-being factors, and children's well-being factors should be considered in terms of the familial and community context [5][6][7][8]. Some familial factors that may influence child well-being include socio-economic status [9,10], parental education levels [11], marital stability [12][13][14], religious health as measured by participating in religious experiences as a buffer for stress [15][16][17] and connectedness to a support network [18]. ...
Article
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Communities across the United States, in both urban and rural areas, are seeking ways to promote well-being for their citizens in sustainable ways. This paper provides a descriptive case study of one rural community that used an inquiry-based approach to ask, “How can we engage our citizens to improve child and family well-being in our community?” The group also wondered “What if Brookings had one place for families to access all family resources that support well-being?” “What if all families had a place where their needs were heard?” and “What if all resources for families looked at the well-being of children and families in a holistic way?” This paper describes the initial journey of a community of practice advocating on several different community levels, including the role of university students, the process of the community of practice formation, its growing connections to community agencies and its initial efforts to build calls to action through participatory research and grassroots community efforts. While conveying a linear narrative, the authors also maintain a focus on the organic processes of knowledge construction and the evolution of a community of practice. Data collection, using the Delphi approach, is underway to access initial ground-up definitions of well-being and to identify areas of focus.
... Adhikari, Agrawal, and Sharma (2019) document that shareholders' ability to sue corporate insiders for their allegedly illegal trades has a significant impact on insiders' opportunistic trading. Given that litigation risk may potentially have more damaging effects to married CEOs regarding unemployment, reputation, disruption in their ability to meet family consumption commitment, and erosion in the quality of family and children life (e.g., Bradley and Corwyn, 2002;Ribar, 2015;Roussanov and Savor, 2014), we expect that married CEOs are more likely to abstain from information-driven insider trading than single CEOs. ...
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We investigate the association between the chief executive officers’ (CEOs’) marital status and their tendency to profit from insider trading. We argue that marriage can constrain CEOs’ opportunistic behaviour, which could increase litigation risk and show that married CEOs earn lower future abnormal profits compared to unmarried CEOs. We also find that married CEOs are less likely to engage in opportunistic trades and earn lower insider trading profits among firms with weaker corporate governance and those with higher information asymmetry. Our empirical results remain robust after accounting for several endogeneity tests.
... In particular, the effect of family resilience on parent-reported emotional symptoms of their children appeared to be stronger for the married participants compared with cohabiting participants, but they were both significant compared with divorced parents. This result is in line with previous studies stating that living in a marital or cohabitation relationship, compared with other family living arrangements, improves children's well-being (Ribar, 2015). Indeed, the important benefits that marriage can have on parents, such as better psychological health and greater happiness, could contribute to increase the family resilience in terms of family involvement and cohesiveness of family, sharing emotions, cooperative problem-solving, and family coping (Kapp & Brown, 2011). ...
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Objective: This study aimed to explore the role of family resilience in the relationship between parents' psychological stress and their perceptions of children's emotional and behavioral symptoms during the COVID-19 lockdown in Italy. Background: The COVID-19 lockdown threatened the well-being of parents, with a potentially cascading effect on children's adjustment. However, the negative impact of parents' stress on children's well-being may be attenuated in resilient families. Method: During the Italian lockdown, an online survey was administered to 649 parents of at least one child aged between 5 and 17 years. Respondents completed the survey themselves and their child(ren). The Perceived Stress Scale, the Walsh Family Resilience Questionnaire, and the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire were administered to parents. Results: Results show that family resilience is a key mechanism in the association of parents' perceived stress with their perceptions of children's emotional symptoms, prosocial behavior, and hyperactivity and that only par-ents' marital status moderates this relationship. Conclusion: The intervening role of family resilience emphasizes the need to empower parents and families during the pandemic crisis. Implications: By strengthening family resilience, family resources maybe strengthened to meet new challenges more effectively.
... In addition, all family types studied here were at higher risk of CFI than married biological parent households. This aligns with prior research which shows that children raised by their married biological parents enjoy a range of better cognitive, economic and emotional outcomes compared to their peers in other family types (Ribar 2015). In addition, among cohabiting families, there was no protective advantage for children living with two biological parents. ...
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Youth unemployment continues to be a burden and concern for the South African government. Being economically insecure, the situation is dire with the government needing to provide resources to a population who should be economically independent. There is a need to look at the social determinants of economic insecurity among youth in South Africa. Family formations could either promote or inhibit economic well-being. This article aims to assess whether economic security improves as youth enter into unions and/or have children. The South African National Income Dynamics Study is used. Unmarried youth with no children are measured at baseline (2008) and followed up over time to examine whether economic security status changes as union status changes. Results show that while economic security, employment (from 7.61% to 25.67%) and net income per month (from 19.48% to 32.79%) increase over time, youth who marry but have no children have the lowest risk of economic insecurity (relative risk ratio = 0.02, p < 0.05) compared with those who remain unmarried but have children. Special attention needs to be given to youth who have children and are unmarried and among those who marry and have children soon after.
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This essay considers how recent social science demonstrates that what John Rawls called the internal life of the family bears on “fair equality of opportunity” for children so as to create a quandary for liberal egalitarian conceptions of justice that assert the autonomy of family structure and parenting independent of what Rawls calls the “basic structure” for justice. The quandary may be resolvable because a plethora of social scientific studies implicitly consider the norms of individual and family autonomy and reciprocity between society and families in promoting opportunities for children. While the preponderance of evidence demonstrates that family structure, stability, and parenting are important, perhaps indispensable, for “fair equality of opportunity” for children, and thus inform moral norms, it also allows for some freedom in family forms and parenting and establishes that some forms of reciprocal societal assistance is necessary for effective family support for child outcomes. Although the social science does not dictate necessary policy for justice, it raises nearly indisputable evidence that liberal egalitarian ethics can and should consider as bearing crucially on fair equality of opportunity for children.
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We investigate the association between chief executive officers’ (CEOs’) marital status and their tendency to profit from insider trading. We argue that marriage can constrain CEOs’ opportunistic behaviour, which could increase litigation risk, and show that married CEOs earn lower insider trading returns compared to unmarried CEOs. Insider trades can be identified as either routine or opportunistic. We also find that married CEOs are less likely to engage in opportunistic trades, and they earn lower insider trading returns in firms with weaker corporate governance and higher information asymmetry. Our empirical results remain robust after accounting for several endogeneity tests.
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Educational attainment is lower among children with divorced parents than those with continuously married parents. Most research has focused on the educational outcomes of children and little research has examined the effect of parental divorce on educational attainment beyond a bachelor’s degree. Using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997, we investigated how parental divorce affects young adult postbaccalaureate educational attainment, measured by graduate/professional school enrollment and attainment of a graduate/professional degree. We also examined the role of social capital, measured by parental educational expectations. Parental divorce was negatively associated with enrolling in a graduate/professional program and obtaining a degree. Parental educational expectations were positively related to children’s postbaccalaureate educational attainment, but the expectations of divorced and continuously married parents were similar and did not explain the negative effect of parental divorce. More work is needed to investigate explanations for lower postbaccalaureate educational attainment among children of divorce.
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Sexual concurrency, or having temporally overlapping sexual partnerships, has important consequences for relationship quality and individual health, as well as the health and well-being of others embedded in larger sexual networks. Although married and cohabiting couples have similar, almost universal expectations of sexual exclusivity, the former report significantly lower rates of engaging in sexual concurrency than the latter. Given that this difference in behavior occurs despite similar expectations of sexual fidelity, sexual exclusivity can provide an important test of whether marriage has a causal effect on relationship behavior. Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health, I estimate an instrumental variable model testing whether observed differences in sexual concurrency between marital and cohabiting relationships are attributable to marriage itself via a recent implementation of the special regressor method, an estimator for binary choice models with endogenous regressors. I find evidence that, relative to cohabitation, marriage reduces the likelihood that an individual will engage in concurrent sexual relationships. Finding an effect of marriage in a recent cohort of young adults suggests that, despite changes in marriage and cohabitation, marriage still influences individual behavior. © 2018 The Author(s). Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. All rights reserved.
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This study examines the ways that social capital sustains flourishing among rural Chinese children, including left-behind children (LBC). Social capital combines structural, substantive, and functional components. Data came from a survey of 995 children in rural areas of China. Results show that LBC experienced significantly lower flourishing and social capital than did other children. In addition, background factors including caretakers’ education and parental marital status had great positive effects on flourishing. Furthermore, the interaction effect of social capital and parental marital status was significantly positive on flourishing. The findings imply the need to boost social capital and flourishing in LBC. Meanwhile, maintaining parental marriage is important for boosting flourishing.
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Flourishing, which comprises positive emotions and functioning, is a new dimension of well-being. This study attempts to explore rural Chinese children’s flourishing by focusing on this new perspective. Moreover, this study aims to examine the potential factors that influence rural children’s flourishing. One is ego identity exploration, which is a required and essential process during the period in which children grow up. Culture is also an important determinant affecting children’s well-being and development. Therefore, this study aims to examine how ego identity exploration and traditional Chinese culture affect rural children’s flourishing from micro and macro perspectives. Herein, to achieve these objectives, this study collected 997 valid samples at the end of 2017 in Liaoning Province. The results show that left-behind status is a predicting factor affecting rural children’s flourishing in Mainland China, although the effect of left-behind status is weak. This study also finds that ego identity exploration and traditional Chinese culture have positive effects on rural children’s flourishing respectively, whereas their interaction effect has a negative effect on their flourishing. Regarding these findings, this study has discussed the potential reasons and provided some practical suggestions to foster rural adolescents’ flourishing.
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Introduction Previous research examines the effects of same-sex marriage on many child and family outcomes, but only a small subset examines the effects of laws on those outcomes. We evaluate the effects of same-sex marriage legalization in the USA on four socio-familial outcomes. Methods We use currently available public data from the U.S. Census and CDC to analyze changes in state-level legalization of same-sex marriage on rates of child poverty, divorce, marriage, and children living in single-parent households within each state from 2011 to 2016. The estimators use traditional cross-sectional time-series methodologies, along with adjusting for high-dimensional fixed-effects (HDFE) clustering to account for both spatial and temporal dependence of state-time observations. Results We find no evidence to validate claims of negative ramifications from same-sex marriage legalization on these outcomes. Discussion With respect to the arguments articulated in Supreme Court amici briefs, we show that assertions of negative social effects of legalized same-sex marriage are largely unsupported. Conclusion In addition to illustrating the gains from HDFE estimators, we conclude that warnings of likely negative effects from same-sex marriage, such as disallowing adoption by same-sex couples, are not credible.
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Objective This study examines family structure differences in parents' financial investments in children. Background Family structure in the United States is undergoing important change and continued stratification with increases in single parenting and cohabiting unions. These transformations in family demography have important implications for social mobility as theory and empirical research suggest family structure plays an important role in shaping children's life chances, in part through the differential financial investments that parents make for their children's development. Method Drawing from the 2003–2018 Consumer Expenditure Surveys, this study examined differences by family structure in parental financial investments in children's childcare, schooling, and enrichment activities using data on 44,930 households in 123,862 household‐quarters. The study compared differences between married, cohabiting, and single parents, and it tested the extent to which disparities in economic resources account for associations between family structure and financial investments in children. Results Single and cohabiting parents made smaller financial investments in children than married parents. Income explained the entire difference for single parents but about 60% of the gap for cohabiting parents. These gaps in expenditures by family structure were smallest among Hispanic households and largest among highly educated households. Conclusion This study shows that family structure is a source of familial inequalities in parental investments in children. Explanations for the lower levels of investment (compared with married parents) are different between single and cohabiting parents, which has implications for how to reduce these inequalities.
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Research on marital quality and child well-being is currently limited by its common use of geographically constrained, homogenous, and often cross-sectional (or at least temporally limited) samples. We build upon previous work showing multiple trajectories of marital quality and data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth-1979 (NLSY79) regarding mothers and their children (inclusive of ages 5–14). We examine how indicators of child well-being are linked to parental trajectories of marital quality (happiness, communication, and conflict). Results showed children whose parents had consistently poor marital quality over the life course exhibited more internalizing and externalizing problems, poorer health, lower quality home environments, and lower math and vocabulary scores than children of parents in consistently higher-quality marriages. Group differences remained stable over time for child health, home environment, and vocabulary scores. Group differences for internalizing problems declined over time, whereas group differences increased for externalizing problems and math scores. Initial advantages for females across nearly all indicators of child well-being tended to shrink over time, with boys often moving slightly ahead by mid adolescence. We discuss the implications of these findings in regard to children's development and well-being and suggest treating marriage as a monolithic construct betrays important variation within marriage itself.
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Children’s food insecurity has been associated with adverse health outcomes. In Portugal, data on children’s reports of food insecurity, as well as its determinants, are scarce. This study assessed the prevalence and determinants of children’s food insecurity in a population-based sample of Portuguese children. A cross-sectional study based on 2895 children from the Generation XXI birth cohort was performed. Data on food security status and socio-demographic characteristics were collected. Food security status was assessed through the Self-Administered Food Security Survey Module for Children Ages 12 Years and Older. Associations between children’s food insecurity and socio-demographic characteristics were explored using logistic regression models. The food insecurity prevalence was 9.5%. Boys (OR = 1.98; 95%CI = 1.51–2.59), children with low educated mothers (OR = 2.28; 95%CI = 1.62–3.20), fathers in low occupational positions (OR = 1.70; 95%CI = 1.19–2.43), from families with low income (OR = 1.53; 95%CI = 1.05–2.24) and children belonging to families with the perception of having an insufficient household income (OR = 2.54; 95%CI = 1.45–4.45) were more prone to food insecurity. Belonging to a stepfamily (OR = 1.82; 95%CI = 1.04–3.19), single-parent family (OR = 2.26; 95%CI = 1.56–3.28) or extended family (OR = 1.82; 95%CI = 1.28–2.59), and having caregivers unemployed (OR = 1.72; 95%CI = 1.30–2.28) were associated with children’s food insecurity. Household size (OR = 1.24; 95%CI = 1.06–1.45) also showed to be positively associated with food insecurity. Around one in every ten children were shown to be food insecure. Male children, with low educated mothers and fathers in low occupational positions, caregivers’ unemployment, belonging to stepfamilies, single-parent families or extended families, and families with a low and perception of insufficient household income may be those who would beneficiate the most from Public Health interventions to promote food security.
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The current study sought to ascertain the impact of inter-parent conflicts on teenage psychological distress, social and academic adjustment and examine the suicide ideation during the COVID-19. The results found to be alarming as 22% of the individuals displayed suicidal tendencies, with 9% having attempted suicide once, 4.6% having tried suicide twice, and 11% stating that they were likely to do so again. Therefore, the media and the government might host awareness programs and counseling initiatives to promote mental health and prevent suicidal behavior. Moreover, parents may be educated on community level, about the effect of inter-parental arguments on the mental health of their children.
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Children born outside of marriage fare worse than children born to married parents, on average. Births to unwed mothers and single parenthood have other negative consequences, including increased spending on health care and social welfare programs. The majority of such births are unplanned. Greater access to birth control—particularly the newer, more effective types of birth control known as long-acting, reversible contraception—helps women delay childbearing until they and their partners are in a stable relationship, ready to marry, and ready to become parents. Attempts to expand voluntary use of long-acting contraception are being disrupted by political infighting. © 2015 by The Trustees of Princeton University, All rights reserved.
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Because of the financial and social hardship faced after divorce, most people assume that generally husbands have instigated divorce since the introduction of no-fault divorce. Yet women file for divorce and are often the instigators of separation, despite a deep attachment to their children and the evidence that many divorces harm children. Furthermore, divorced women in large numbers reveal that they are happier than they were while married. They report relief and certainty that they were right in leaving their marriages. This fundamental puzzle suggests that the incentives to divorce require a reexamination, and that the forces affecting the net benefits from marriage may be quite complicated, and perhaps asymmetric between men and women. This paper considers women's filing as rational behavior, based on spouses' relative power in the marriage, their opportunities following divorce, and their anticipation of custody.
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Using two samples of low-income, single-mother families from the Survey of Income and Program Participation, this study examined differences in employment status before versus during and after the Great Recession. The authors also examined economic hardship and receipt of government and private assistance based on mothers' employment status within and between the two samples. During and after the Great Recession, experiencing certain employment problems is more common than in the prerecession months. However, in both periods, these families are vulnerable to economic problems, and receipt of public benefits is more common than private assistance. These findings vary by mothers' employment status.
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This chapter discusses both food security and food assistance programs. The latter are a response to threats to the former, so the topics are best treated jointly. First I review the concept of food security, then presents a basic analytical model of food security, approached as a subtopic of the economics of health. The discussion then turns to the multiple threats to food security, available empirical indicators of food security, and various mechanisms for reducing vulnerability. Food security is linked to the consumption, production, and marketing of food, the functioning of factor markets?especially for labor?social safety nets, governmental and nongovernmental assistance agencies, initial asset and income distributions, and myriad other subjects across several disciplines. The aim of this chapter is therefore not to plumb each subtopic in depth so much as to identify the key issues and the relevant literatures to which readers interested in greater detail should turn. After tackling food security, the review turns to the related literature on government food assistance programs, the suite of distributive and regulatory interventions through which states try to ensure citizens' food security. A range of domestic food assistance programs are considered first, emphasizing in particular the United States' relatively well-studied programs. Then attention turns to international assistance programs, especially food aid. The next and largest subsection considers issues common to both domestic and international food assistance programs: additionality, targeting, intertemporal variability, direct and indirect costs, and incentives.
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This study investigated the association between family instability and children's problem behavior during the transition to first grade. In a sample (n = 1,015) drawn from the NICHD Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development, we found that a quarter of sample members experienced at least one family transition between birth and age 6. Instability was also related to family structure at birth: those born into cohabiting parent families experienced the most instability, followed by those born into single mother families and finally, those in two-biological married parent families. Children who experienced instability had higher teacher and observer reports of problem behaviors than those from stable family structures. Finally, differences in problem behavior associated with family instability varied by family structure at birth and the emotional, social and material resources in the family.
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We investigate how household disadvantage affects the time use of 15–18 year olds using 2003–2006 data from the American Time Use Survey. Applying competing-risk hazard models, we distinguish between the incidence and duration of activities and incorporate the daily time constraint. We find that teens living in disadvantaged households spend less time in nonclassroom educational activities than other teens. Girls spend some of this time in work activities, suggesting that they are taking on adult roles. However, we find more evidence of substitution into unsupervised activities, suggesting that it may be less-structured environments that reduce educational investment.
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We use time-diary data from the 2003 and 2004 American Time Use Surveys and the 2000 United Kingdom Time Use Study to estimate the effect of family structure on the time mothers and fathers spend on primary and passive child care and on market work, using a system of correlated Tobit equations. Our results indicate that estimates are sensitive to the inclusion of a common household factor that controls for selection into family type. Estimates from the selection-controlled models indicate that single parents in both countries spend more time in child care than married or cohabiting parents, perhaps in part to compensate for the missing parent, but that there is no difference in the time allocation of married and cohabiting parents. There are substantial cross-country differences, however, as single parents in the U.S. work more than other parents and single parents in the U.K. work less.
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This article uses data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study to examine whether family instability is associated with changes in perceived social support, material hardship, maternal depression, and parenting stress among mothers of young children. In addition to accounting for the number of transitions that a mother experiences during the first five years of her child's life, we pay close attention to the type and timing of these transitions. We find that mothers who transition to cohabitation or marriage with their child's biological father experience declines in material hardship and that those who transition to cohabitation or marriage with another man exhibit modest declines in both material hardship and depression. Mothers who exit cohabiting or marital relationships encounter decreases in perceived social support and increases in material hardship, depression, and parenting stress. Overall, our results suggest that both the type and, to a much lesser degree, the timing of family structure transitions may influence maternal well-being.
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Past research suggests that children who experience multiple transitions in family structure may face worse developmental outcomes than children raised in stable two-parent families and perhaps even children raised in stable, single-parent families. However, multiple transitions and negative child outcomes may be associated because of common causal factors such as parents' antecedent behaviors and attributes. Using a nationally-representative, two-generation longitudinal survey that includes detailed information on children's behavioral and cognitive development, family history, and mother's attributes prior to the child's birth, we examine these alternative hypotheses. Our results suggest that, for white children, the association between the number of family structure transitions and cognitive outcomes is largely explained by mother's prior characteristics but that the association between the number of transitions and behavioral outcomes may be causal in part. We find no robust effects of number of transitions for black children.
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Rising rates of nonmarital childbirth in the United States have resulted in a new family type, the fragile family. Such families, which include cohabiting couples as well as single mothers, experience significantly higher rates of poverty and material hardship than their married counterparts. Ariel Kalil and Rebecca Ryan summarize the economic challenges facing mothers in fragile families and describe the resources, both public and private, that help them meet these challenges. The authors explain that the economic fragility of these families stems from both mothers' and fathers' low earnings, which result from low education levels, as well as from physical, emotional, and mental health problems. Mothers in fragile families make ends meet in many ways. The authors show that various public programs, particularly those that provide in-kind assistance, do successfully lessen economic hardship in fragile families. Single mothers also turn to private sources of support--friends, family, boyfriends--for cash and in-kind assistance. But though these private safety nets are essential to many mothers' economic survival, according to the authors, private safety nets are not always consistent and dependable. Thus, assistance from private sources may not fundamentally improve mothers' economic circumstances. Policy makers, say Kalil and Ryan, must recognize that with rates of nonmarital childbirth at their current level, and potentially rising still, the fragile family is likely an enduring fixture in this country. It is thus essential to strengthen policies that both support these families' economic self-sufficiency and alleviate their hardship during inevitable times of economic distress. The most important first step, they say, is to strengthen the public safety net, especially such in-kind benefits as food stamps, Medicaid, housing, and child care. A next step would be to bolster community-based programs that can provide private financial support, such as emergency cash assistance, child care, and food aid, when mothers cannot receive it from their own private networks.
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Using data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study this paper examines associations between family structure and economic trajectories during the first five years after a child’s birth, paying special attention to non-traditional families. Among families with stable structures, married-parent families have the highest economic wellbeing, followed by cohabiting-parent families and then single mothers. Among unstable families, exits from marriage and cohabitation are associated with declines in mothers’ economic wellbeing. Entering coresidential unions after a non-marital birth is associated with gains in single mothers’ economic wellbeing, especially if those unions involve the child’s biological father. Findings are robust across several measures of economic wellbeing including household income, income-to-needs ratios, and material hardship.
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The rise in the divorce rate over the past 40 years is one of the fundamental changes in American society. A seemingly ever-increasing number of women and children spend some fraction of their life in single female-headed households, leading many to be concerned about the economic circumstances of these women their and children. Estimating the cause-to-effect relationship between marital dissolution and female economic status is complicated because the same factors that increase marital instability may also affect the economic status and labor market behavior of women. We propose an instrumental variables solution to this problem based on the sex of the firstborn child. This strategy exploits the fact that the sex of the firstborn child is random and the fact that marriages are less likely to survive following the birth of girls as opposed to boys. Our IV estimates cast doubt on the contention that marital instability causes large declines in woman’s economic status. Once the negative selection into divorce is accounted for, we find that women who have experienced marital dissolution have considerably higher levels of personal income and annual wages than women who remain married. At the same time we find little evidence of differential poverty rates and equivalized household incomes among ever-divorced women and never-divorced women. We further show that the higher wages of ever-divorced women mostly reflect increased labor supply intensity (hours and weeks of work) of woman who experienced marital dissolution.
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Data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (N = 4,176) are used to examine family structure transitions and maternal parenting stress. Using multilevel modeling, we find that mothers who exit coresidential relationships with biological fathers or enter coresidential relationships with nonbiological fathers report higher levels of parenting stress than mothers in stable coresidential relationships. Mothers who enter coresidential relationships with biological fathers report lower levels of parenting stress than mothers who remain single. Mothers' resources, especially their relationships with biological fathers, account for most of the associations between transitions and parenting stress, with posttransition resources being more important than pretransition resources. Mothers with high levels of education are less affected by transitions than mothers with less education.
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Children are increasingly born into cohabiting parent families, but we know little to date about the implications of this family pattern for children's lives. We examine whether children born into premarital cohabitation and first marriages experience similar rates of parental disruption, and whether marriage among cohabiting parents enhances union stability. These issues are important because past research has linked instability in family structure with lower levels of child well-being. Drawing on the 1995 National Survey of Family Growth, we find that white, black and Hispanic children born to cohabiting parents experience greater levels of instability than children born to married parents. Moreover, black and Hispanic children whose cohabiting parents marry do not experience the same levels of family stability as those born to married parents; among white children, however, the marriage of cohabiting parents raises levels of family stability to that experienced by children born in marriage. The findings from this paper contribute to the debate about the benefits of marriage for children. Peer Reviewed http://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/bitstream/2027.42/43523/1/11113_2004_Article_5144453.pdf
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KEY FINDINGS: Data from the National Health Interview Survey. Overall, unmarried (divorced or never married) women aged 25-64 years are more likely to be uninsured (21%) than married women (13%) in the same age group. Poor married women are more likely to be uninsured than poor unmarried women, inpart because they are less likely to have Medicaid coverage. Married women are more likely to have private insurance, and less likely to have Medicaid, than unmarried women. The probability of an offer of health insurance through an employer increases with family income for both married and unmarried women.
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Having a female first-born child significantly increases the probability that a woman’s first marriage breaks up. Using this exogenous variation, recent work finds that divorce has little effect on women’s mean household income. We further investigate the effect of divorce using Quantile Treatment Effect methodology and find that it increases women’s odds of having very high or very low income. In other words, while some women successfully compensate for lost spousal earnings through child support, welfare, combining households, and increasing labor supply, others are markedly unsuccessful. We conclude that by raising both poverty and inequality, divorce has important welfare consequences.
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This paper develops a general, "collective" model of household labor supply in which agents are characterized by their own (possibly altruistic) preferences and household decisions are only assumed to be Pareto efficient. An alternative interpretation is that there are two stages in the internal decision process: agents first share nonlabor income, according to some given sharing rule; then each one optimally chooses his or her own labor supply and consumption. This setting is shown to generate testable restrictions on labor supplies. Moreover, the observation of labor-supply behavior is sufficient for recovering individual preferences and the sharing rule (up to a constant). Copyright 1992 by University of Chicago Press.
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National, longitudinal surveys from Great Britain and the United States were used to investigate the effects of divorce on children. In both studies, a subsample of children who were in two-parent families during the initial interview (at age 7 in the British data and at ages 7 to 11 in the U.S. data) were followed through the next interview (at age 11 and ages 11 to 16, respectively). At both time points in the British data, parents and teachers independently rated the children's behavior problems, and the children were given reading and mathematics achievement tests. At both time points in the U.S. data, parents rated the children's behavior problems. Children whose parents divorced or separated between the two time points were compared to children whose families remained intact. For boys, the apparent effect of separation or divorce on behavior problems and achievement at the later time point was sharply reduced by considering behavior problems, achievement levels, and family difficulties that were present at the earlier time point, before any of the families had broken up. For girls, the reduction in the apparent effect of divorce occurred to a lesser but still noticeable extent once preexisting conditions were considered.
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A million children experience divorce each year, and some policymakers argue for policies that would make it more difficult for parents to divorce. However, being exposed to a high degree of marital conflict has been shown to place children at risk for a variety of problems. Using mother-child data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY) and a prospective design, this research explores two questions: Do the effects of marital disruption on child well-being vary for children whose parents leave high-conflict marriages versus low-conflict marriages? How do children fare when their high-conflict parents remain together? We find that separation and divorce are associated with increases in behavior problems in children, regardless of the level of conflict between parents. However, in marriages that do not break up, high levels of marital conflict are associated with even greater increases in children's behavior problems.
Article
U.S. children today have increasingly diverse living arrangements. In 2012, 10 percent of children lived with at least one grandparent; 8 percent lived in three-generational households, consisting of a parent and a grandparent; while 2 percent lived with a grandparent and no parent in the household. This article reviews the literature on grandparent coresidence and presents new research on children coresiding with grandparents in modern families. Findings suggest that grandparent coresidence is quite common and that its prevalence increased during the Great Recession. Additionally, these living arrangements are diverse themselves, varying by the marital status of the parent, the home in which the family lives, and the economic well-being of the family. Suggestions for future research are also proposed. © 2014 by The American Academy of Political and Social Science.
Article
This article compares time invested in children across family structures as a means to understand differences in children's development. Using data from the 1997 Panel Study of Income Dynamics' Child Development Supplement, we measure time investments from multiple caregivers and distinguish time children spend with a caregiver alone versus shared with another caregiver. We examine six family structures-married biological parents, cohabiting biological parents, mother and stepfather, mother and cohabiting boyfriend, single mother only, and multigenerational households. The total care-giving time that children receive in married biological parent families and cohabiting biological parent families is comparable to that for children living in stepfather families and multigenerational families. This is because children in stepfather families and multigenerational households receive substantial time investments from nonresident biological fathers and grandparents, respectively. In contrast, children receive little time investment from resident nonbiological father figures; and children in single mother, cohabiting boyfriend, and multigenerational households receive little time investment from their nonresident biological fathers. Finally, children who live with married biological parents receive the greatest share of caregiving time in the form of shared caregiving compared with children in all other family structures. Our findings suggest that having two resident biological caregivers predicts greater time investments in children and that shared parenting may be an important dimension of family structure. © 2014 by The American Academy of Political and Social Science.
Article
The proportion of US families that are unbanked (i.e., have no type of checking or savings account) has steadily declined for more than two decades. Nonetheless, more than nine million families still do not participate in the financial mainstream, and roughly half these unbanked families previously held a traditional bank account. This study uses the 2004 longitudinal Survey of Income Program Participation to examine the dynamic process within which changes in families' circumstances contribute to their becoming unbanked. Our findings suggest that families are significantly more likely to become unbanked when there is a decline in family income, loss of employment, or loss of health insurance coverage. Race and ethnicity, level of education or family income, and marital or housing status are also important determinants of whether families participate in the financial mainstream or not. To our knowledge, this is the first analysis of the dynamic process by which families change bank status.
Article
We take a prospective approach to examine the consequences of marital disruption for children's behavior problems and academic achievement using NLSY Child Supplement data. The analysis begins with assessments of 1,123 children whose parents' marriages are intact in 1986. By 1988 children fall into either disrupted or intact groups and their behavior and achievement are reassessed. Results show that, even before predisruption characteristics are introduced in our models, there is little effect of marital dissolution on girls. We find that negative effects of family disruption on the behavior problems scores of boys are nor reduced when prior family characteristics are controlled. In addition, the effect of disruption on boys' behavior problems can be partially attributed to downward mobility following the disruption.
Article
Researchers largely have relied on a measure of family structure to describe children's living arrangements, but this approach captures only the child's relationship to the parent(s), ignoring the presence and composition of siblings. We develop a measure of family complexity that merges family structure and sibling composition to distinguish between simple two-biological-parent families, families with complex-sibling (half or stepsiblings) arrangements, and complex-parent (stepparent, single-parent) families. Using the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP), we provide a descriptive profile of changes in children's living arrangements over a 13-year span (1996-2009). SIPP sample sizes are sufficiently large to permit an evaluation of changes in the distribution of children in various (married, cohabiting, and single-parent) simple and complex families according to race/ethnicity and parental education. The article concludes by showing that we have reached a plateau in family complexity and that complexity is concentrated among the most disadvantaged families.
Article
Using data on 67,558 children (age 0 to 17) from the 1999 and 2002 rounds of the National Survey of America's Families, the association between complex living arrangements and children's health is examined. The authors consider children residing in a wide range of living arrangements, including with stepparents, single fathers, custodial grandparents, and nonkin foster parents. Findings suggest that children's health varies by family structure. The authors find a key role for living with a biological father when predicting children's health. Children living with a single father are less likely to have poor health outcomes than most other groups, whereas those with a stepfather have reduced health outcomes. The same is not true for those living with a single mother or stepmother. Children being raised by a grandparent and those in foster care have particularly poor health outcomes. Mediation analysis suggests income and health insurance status do not explain these relationships.
Article
The literature on father absence is frequently criticized for its use of cross-sectional data and methods that fail to take account of possible omitted variable bias and reverse causality. We review studies that have responded to this critique by employing a variety of innovative research designs to identify the causal effect of father absence, including studies using lagged dependent variable models, growth curve models, individual fixed effects models, sibling fixed effects models, natural experiments, and propensity score matching models. Our assessment is that studies using more rigorous designs continue to find negative effects of father absence on offspring well-being, although the magnitude of these effects is smaller than what is found using traditional cross-sectional designs. The evidence is strongest and most consistent for outcomes such as high school graduation, children's social-emotional adjustment, and adult mental health.
Article
This research examines whether married low-income renters are more likely to become home owners than comparable single, low-income renters. To do so, it employs data from the Community Advantage Panel Study and discrete-time survival analysis with propensity-score matching. Results suggest that married couples buy homes at higher rates, and buy them more quickly, than do their unmarried counterparts. Estimates in models that use propensity-score matching are robust to the control of selection bias between the married and the unmarried groups. The findings suggest that efforts to encourage marriage among low-income couples may be associated with subsequent economic mobility through home ownership.
Article
This article bridges the literatures on the economic consequences of divorce for women with that on marital transitions and health by focusing on women’s health insurance. Using a monthly calendar of marital status and health insurance coverage from 1,442 women in the Survey of Income and Program Participation, we examine how women’s health insurance changes after divorce. Our estimates suggest that roughly 115,000 American women lose private health insurance annually in the months following divorce and that roughly 65,000 of these women become uninsured. The loss of insurance coverage we observe is not just a short-term disruption. Women’s rates of insurance coverage remain depressed for more than two years after divorce. Insurance loss may compound the economic losses women experience after divorce and contribute to as well as compound previously documented health declines following divorce.
Article
Using data from the 1980 to 2003 panels of the Consumer Expenditure Survey, this article examines purchasing decisions in father-headed single-parent families. Single-father expenditures are compared to both married-parent expenditures and single-mother expenditures on 17 broad categories of household-level goods and services. Multivariate analysis finds that single fathers' consumption choices differ from bundles within married-parent households and single-mother households. Compared to married parents, single fathers spend more on food away from home, alcohol, and tobacco products and spend less on publications, toys, and children's education. Single fathers differ from single mothers by spending more on food away from home, alcohol, and tobacco products and less on books and children's education.
Article
This paper uses American Time Use Survey (ATUS) data to describe the time use of teenagers ages 15–17, with a focus on activities that may affect teenagers’ well-being such as sleep, eating, schoolwork, and selected leisure activities. We find that teenagers with an employed mother spend less time on homework and computers, are less likely to eat with parents, but spend more time in supervised activities. Teenagers with a single mother spend more time in paid work, are less likely to eat dinner with their parent, and spend more time in unsupervised activities, but they also get more sleep. Adolescents with more educated mothers spend more time studying and on the computer, less time watching television, and are more likely to eat dinner with parents. Family income correlates positively with teenagers’ paid work, homework, computer use, and the likelihood of eating with parents, but is negatively associated with sleep. Family size is positively related to time spent in caregiving activities, sleep, and eating with parents, but is associated with less computer use.
Article
Differences in food expenditures in married- and single-parent families are examined using the Consumer Expenditure Survey Diary Component (1990–2003). Single parents, compared to married parents, allocate a greater share of their food budget to alcohol and food purchased away from home; conversely, they spend a smaller share of their food budget on vegetables and fruits. Compared to married parents, single fathers spend a greater share on alcohol and food purchased away from home and a lesser share on vegetables, fruits, meat and beans, desserts and snacks, and prepared foods. Single mothers, compared to married parents, spend a greater share on grains and nonalcoholic beverages and a lesser share on vegetables and alcohol. Single mothers and fathers differ from each other in almost all categories of food and beverage expenditure. We also find important differences based on the employment status of parents in the household: families where all parents are employed, irrespective of family structure, spend a greater share of their food budgets on food purchased away from home and a lesser share on vegetables, fruits, milk, and meat and beans compared with married-couple families in which the mother is not employed. We discuss ways in which family structure and parental employment status may be associated with food purchasing decisions.
Article
The positive association between growing up in a nonintact family and the risk of a first premarital birth has been interpreted by researchers as consistent with three hypotheses: (1) a childhood socialization hypothesis - that women who grow up in a mother-only family during early childhood are socialized in ways that result in a high risk of a premarital birth; (2) a social control hypothesis - that the supervision of adolescents is more difficult in single-parent families than in two-parent families; and (3) an instability and change hypothesis - that a premarital birth is a response to the stresses accompanying changes in a woman's family situation. Although these hypotheses imply distinct behavioral mechanisms, adjudicating between them has proven difficult, in part because researchers have relied on static measures of family structure. We use data from the National Survey of Families and Households and continuous-time hazard models to investigate the effects on premarital births of dynamic family measures that reflect a woman's family situation between birth and age 19. Our findings are consistent with the instability and change hypothesis, but provide little support for the socialization hypothesis and the social control hypothesis.
Article
The relationship between multiple dimensions of childhood living arrangements and the formation of subsequent unions is investigated. Using the 1995 National Survey of Family Growth, both statuses and transitions associated with childhood living arrangements at three different stages of childhood are considered. It was found that both statuses and transitions, but not the ages at which they occur, are related to the risk of union formation. Women who experienced more transitions in childhood living arrangements and who lived with other than married, biological parents form premarital cohabiting unions faster than other women. Rates of first marriage are higher among women who lived with a stepparent, and they are lower among women who lived with a parent and that parent's cohabiting partner.
Article
In this paper, we address the transition to first-time homeownership. We use the occurrence of household events such as cohabitation, marriage and getting children, as well as homeownership of the parents as the main explanatory factors. Using the first wave of the Netherlands Kinship Panel Study and event history analysis techniques including interaction effects with calendar year, we investigate how the effects of household events and the intergenerational transmission of homeownership have changed during the past few decades. The results show that singles and cohabiters have become more likely to make the transition to homeownership, whereas the effects of intergenerational transmission and the differences between married couples with children and cohabiting couples with children have not changed markedly.
Article
We examine the effects of family structure on economic resources, controlling for unobservable family characteristics. In the year following a divorce, family income falls by 41 percent and family food consumption falls by 18 percent. Six or more years later, the family income of the average child whose parent remains unmarried is 45 percent lower than it would have been if the divorce had not occurred. Marriage raises the long-run family income of children born to single parents by 45 percent. These estimates are substantially smaller than the losses that are implied by cross-sectional comparisons across family types.
Article
Both net worth and the accumulation of assets are important indicators of economic stability associated with positive outcomes for children and adults. The primary purposes of this study are (a) to examine asset levels, types of assets, and net worth in different types of households with children; and (b) to identify the factors that influence a household's ability to accumulate wealth. Using data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation (N = 8665) this study examines assets and net worth among households with children. Differences by household type (i.e., married, female-headed, male-headed, and cohabitants) are explored. Findings show married couples have higher levels of wealth than all other household types, and that female-headed households fare the worst in asset accumulation. Household structure, income, race and ethnicity, age, education, and the number and age of children are all associated with net worth. Implications regarding the design of social policies to alleviate poverty and improve family well-being are discussed.
Article
Widespread hunger and malnutrition persist today despite considerable growth in per capita food availability. This has prompted an evolving conceptualization of food security and of mechanisms to attain and maintain food security. This chapter discusses both food security and food assistance programs designed to respond to the threat of food insecurity.
Article
The article attempts to develop a general theory of the allocation of time in non-work activities. It sets out a basic theoretical analysis of choice that includes the cost of time on the same footing as the cost of market goods and treats various empirical implications of the theory. These include a new approach to changes in hours of work and leisure, the full integration of so-called productive consumption into economic analysis, a new analysis of the effect of income on the quantity and quality of commodities consumed, some suggestions on the measurement of productivity, an economic analysis of queues and a few others as well. The integration of production and consumption is at odds with the tendency for economists to separate them sharply, production occurring in firms and consumption in households. It should be pointed out, however, that in recent years economists increasingly recognize that a household is truly a small factory. It combines capital goods, raw materials and labor to clean, feed, procreate and otherwise produce useful commodities.
Article
Over the past decade, the linkages between marriage and child well-being have attracted the attention of researchers and policy makers alike. Children's living arrangements have become increasingly diverse and unstable, which raises important questions about how and why family structure and stability are related to child outcomes. This article reviews new research on this topic, emphasizing how it can inform policy debates about the role of marriage in reducing poverty and improving child outcomes. It also pays special attention to new scholarship on unmarried, primarily low-income families, the target of recent federal marriage initiatives, to appraise the potential contributions of family research to ongoing policy discussions.
Article
"Despite widespread interest among policy researchers in the effect of job displacement on insurance loss, there is little focus in the literature on the insurance implications of a married person losing his or her spouse. Using a large household survey, this article finds that despite legislation aimed at protecting separating spouses, individuals remain at risk of losing health insurance in the event of marital disruption. This is especially true for wives who are enrolled in their husbands' plans prior to marital termination". ("JEL" D13, I18) Copyright 2006 Western Economic Association International.
Article
This present study replicates and updates Ozawa and Kim's study [Ozawa, M.N., & Kim, R.Y. (1999). The trend in the income status of children in female-headed families. Children and Youth Services Review, 21(7), 527-547.] of the trend in the income status of children in female-headed families compared to married-couple families and male-headed families. Using the March 1992, 1999, and 2006 Current Population Surveys (CPS), this study estimates income distribution at three stages: pre-transfer income, pre-transfer income plus social insurance benefits, and post-transfer income. This study found that children in female-headed families lost economic ground to children in married-couple families both at the pre-transfer and post-transfer income stages over the years under this investigation, but the greatest loss appeared at the post-transfer income distribution. Compared to children in male-headed families, children in female-headed families gained small economic ground at both income stages. Unexpectedly, this study also found that decline in the distributive effect of both social insurance and means-tested income transfers occurred for all children across all types of families. Policy implications are discussed.
Article
Using data from three waves of the National Survey of Families and Households (N=1,963), we examine associations between adolescent family experiences and young adult well-being across a range of indicators, including schooling, substance use, and family-related transitions. We compare children living with both biological parents, but whose parents differ in how often they argue, to children in stepfather and single-mother families, and we assess the extent to which differences can be understood in terms of family income and parenting practices. Findings suggest that parental conflict is associated with children's poorer academic achievement, increased substance use, and early family formation and dissolution. Living in single mother and stepfather families tend to be more strongly associated with our indicators of well-being, although differences between these family types and living with high conflict continuously married parents are often statistically indistinguishable. Income and parenting largely do not account for associations between adolescent family type and later life outcomes. We conclude that while children do better, on average, living with two biological married parents, the advantages of two-parent families are not shared equally by all.
Book
This is a double-faced book, which should be read by everybody who is concerned about the societal effects of divorce. It shows that divorce has negative economic and social consequences, not only in the Anglo-Saxon countries, but also in the most generous welfare states of Europe, where divorce is widely accepted. Moreover, these effects are more negative for women than for men, even in the most gender-equalitarian welfare state. But it also shows that social policies can mitigate these negative consequences - Jaap Dronkers, European University Institute, Italy. © Hans-Jürgen Andreß and Dina Hummelsheim 2009. All rights reserved.
Article
How much income would a woman living alone require to attain the same standard of living that she would have if she were married? What percentage of a married couple's expenditures are controlled by the husband? How much money does a couple save on consumption goods by living together versus living apart? We propose and estimate a collective model of household behaviour that permits identification and estimation of concepts such as these. We model households in terms of the utility functions of its members, a bargaining or social welfare function, and a consumption technology function. We demonstrate generic non-parametric identification of the model, and hence of a version of adult equivalence scales that we call “indifference scales”, as well as consumption economies of scale, the household's resource sharing rule or members' bargaining power, and other related concepts.
Article
We use data from three waves of the Fragile Families Study (N = 2,111) to examine the prevalence and effects of mothers’ partnership changes between birth and age 3 on children’s behavior. We find that children born to unmarried and minority parents experience significantly more partnership changes than children born to parents who are married or White. Each transition is associated with a modest increase in behavioral problems, but a significant number of children experience three or more transitions. The effects of instability do not depend on the mothers’ relationship status or race/ethnicity with one exception: instability has a stronger effect on aggression among Hispanic children. The association between instability and behavior is mediated by maternal stress and lower quality mothering.
Article
A new measure of 'voraciousness' in leisure activities is introduced as an indicator of the pace of leisure, facili-tating a theoretical linkage between the literature on time pressure, busyness and harriedness in late modernity, and the literature on cultural consumption. On the methodological side it is shown that time use diaries can pro-vide at least as good a measure of the pace of leisure as survey based measures. Respondents with a high score on the voraciousness measure ('harried' respondents) are not less likely to complete their diaries than less harried respondents. In accord with the findings from the literature on cultural omnivorousness, the most voracious groups are those with high levels of social status and human capital. However, these associations are not due to these groups having either higher income or greater quantities of available leisure time. The pace of leisure ac-tivities must therefore be due to other factors, for example, could a fast pace of out-of-home leisure participation be conceived of as a new marker of status distinction?
Article
This paper constructs a model of saving for retired single people that includes heterogeneity in medical expenses and life expectancies, and bequest motives. We estimate the model using Assets and Health Dynamics of the Oldest Old data and the method of simulated moments. Out-of-pocket medical expenses rise quickly with age and permanent income. The risk of living long and requiring expensive medical care is a key driver of saving for many higher-income elderly. Social insurance programs such as Medicaid rationalize the low asset holdings of the poorest but also benefit the rich by insuring them against high medical expenses at the ends of their lives. (c) 2010 by The University of Chicago. All rights reserved..
Article
This paper estimates mortality and fertility rates prevailing in Ireland during the 25-year period before the Great Irish Famine of 1845-1849. A technique is developed to estimate the age-specific mortality level during the Famine and the number of Famine-related deaths. The paper concludes that fertility rates were declining during the period 1821-1845 and that the effects of the Famine were especially severe on the very young and the very old. Ignoring deaths among emigrants, it is estimated that one million individuals perished as a result of the Famine. The analysis permits year-by-year reconstruction of the Irish population age structure for the period 1821-1851.
Article
The failure of many divorced fathers to comply with court-mandated child support awards has been identified as a major reason why a growing number of children live in poverty in female-headed households. This paper presents a model that seeks to explain why so many divorced fathers allow their children's welfare to suffer as a consequence of divorce. The point of departure is the recognition that children are collective consumption goods from the point of view of the father and mother. Within marriage, proximity and altruism serve to overcome the "free-rider" problem associated with the provision of public goods. However, on divorce the noncustodial parent suffers a loss of control over the allocative decisions of the custodial parent and it is not feasible for the couple to achieve a Pareto-optimal allocation of their joint resources. A model of optimal marriage contracts is constructed in which a couple decides on the allocation of resources within marriage and on the terms of a settlement in the event ...
Article
I assess the long-run implications for children of growing up in a unilateral divorce environment, which increases the ease of divorce by not requiring the explicit consent of both partners. Using 40 years of census data to exploit the variation across states and over time in changes in divorce regulation, I confirm that unilateral divorce regulations do significantly increase the incidence of divorce. Adults who were exposed to unilateral divorce regulations as children are less well educated, have lower family incomes, marry earlier but separate more often, and have higher odds of adult suicide.