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What Determines Family Structure?

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  • DAVID M. BLAU
  • WILBERT van der KLAAUW

Abstract

We estimate the effects of policy and labor market variables on the fertility, union formation and dissolution, type of union (cohabiting versus married), and partner choices of the NLSY79 cohort of women. These demographic behaviors interact to determine the family structure experienced by the children of these women: living with the biological mother and the married or cohabiting biological father, a married or cohabiting step father, or no man. We find that the average wage rates available to men and women have substantial effects on family structure for children of black and Hispanic mothers, but not for whites. The tax treatment of children also affects family structure. Implementation of welfare reform and passage of unilateral divorce laws had much smaller effects on family structure for the children of this cohort of women, as did changes in welfare benefits. The estimates imply that observed changes from the 1970s to the 2000s in the policy and labor market variables considered here contributed to a reduction in the proportion of time spent living without a father by children of the NLSY79 cohort of women. This suggests that the observed increase in this non-traditional family structure in the U.S. in the last three decades was caused by other factors.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Western Economic Association International in its journal Economic Inquiry.

Volume (Year): 51 (2013)
Issue (Month): 1 (01)
Pages: 579-604

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Handle: RePEc:bla:ecinqu:v:51:y:2013:i:1:p:579-604

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References

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  1. Francine D. Blau & Lawrence M. Kahn & FJane Waldfogel, 2004. "The Impact of Welfare Benefits on Single Motherhood and Headship of Young Women: Evidence from the Census," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(2).
  2. Marco Francesconi & Helmut Rainer & Wilbert vanderKlaauw, 2009. "The Effects of In-Work Benefit Reform in Britain on Couples: Theory and Evidence," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 119(535), pages F66-F100, 02.
  3. Thomas Deleire & Ariel Kalil, 2002. "Good things come in threes: Single-parent multigenerational family structure and adolescent adjustment," Demography, Springer, vol. 39(2), pages 393-413, May.
  4. John Fitzgerald & David Ribar, 2004. "Welfare reform and female headship," Demography, Springer, vol. 41(2), pages 189-212, May.
  5. Marianne P. Bitler & Jonah B. Gelbach & Hilary W. Hoynes & Madeline Zavodny, 2002. "The impact of welfare reform on marriage and divorce," Working Paper 2002-9, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
  6. Betsey Stevenson & Justin Wolfers, 2007. "Marriage and Divorce: Changes and their Driving Forces," NBER Working Papers 12944, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. David Blau & Wilbert Klaauw, 2008. "A demographic analysis of the family structure experiences of children in the United States," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 6(3), pages 193-221, September.
  8. Francine D. Blau & Lawrence M. Kahn & Jane Waldfogel, 2000. "Understanding young women's marriage decisions: The role of labor and marriage market conditions," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 53(4), pages 624-647, July.
  9. Wendy Sigle-Rushton & John Hobcraft & Kathleen Kiernan, 2005. "Parental divorce and subsequent disadvantage: A cross-cohort comparison," Demography, Springer, vol. 42(3), pages 427-446, August.
  10. Justin Wolfers, 2003. "Did Unilateral Divorce Laws Raise Divorce Rates? A Reconciliation and New Results," NBER Working Papers 10014, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. V. Joseph Hotz & John Karl Scholz, 2001. "The Earned Income Tax Credit," NBER Working Papers 8078, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Alberto Alesina & Paola Giuliano, 2006. "Divorce, fertility and the shot gun marriage," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 2117, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  13. Christopher A. Swann, 2005. "Welfare Reform When Recipients Are Forward-Looking," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 40(1).
  14. Shannon N. Seitz, 2002. "Accounting for Racial Differences in Marriage and Employment," Working Papers 1009, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
  15. Michael P. Keane & Kenneth I. Wolpin, 2002. "Estimating Welfare Effects Consistent with Forward-Looking Behavior. Part I: Lessons from a Simulation Exercise," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 37(3), pages 570-599.
  16. Alison Aughinbaugh & Charles Pierret & Donna Rothstein, 2005. "The impact of family structure transitions on youth achievement: Evidence from the children of the NlSY79," Demography, Springer, vol. 42(3), pages 447-468, August.
  17. Peters, H Elizabeth, 1986. "Marriage and Divorce: Informational Constraints and Private Contracting," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(3), pages 437-54, June.
  18. Sandra Hofferth, 2006. "Residential father family type and child well-being: Investment versus selection," Demography, Springer, vol. 43(1), pages 53-77, February.
  19. Leora Friedberg, 1998. "Did Unilateral Divorce Raise Divorce Rates? Evidence from Panel Data," NBER Working Papers 6398, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  21. Michael P. Keane & Kenneth I. Wolpin, 2006. "The Role of Labor and Marriage Markets, Preference Heterogeneity and the Welfare System in the Life Cycle Decisions of Black, Hispanic and White Women," PIER Working Paper Archive 06-004, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania.
  22. Saul D. Hoffman & E. Michael Foster, 2000. "AFDC Benefits and Nonmarital Births to Young Women," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 35(2), pages 376-391.
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  25. repec:ese:iserwp:98-02 is not listed on IDEAS
  26. Marianne P. Bitler & Jonah B. Gelbach & Hilary W. Hoynes, 2006. "Welfare Reform and Children's Living Arrangements," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 41(1).
  27. Audrey Light & Yoshiaki Omori, 2009. "Economic Incentives and Family Formation," Working Papers 09-08, Ohio State University, Department of Economics.
  28. Ellwood, David T., 2000. "The Impact of the Earned Income Tax Credit and Social Policy Reforms on Work, Marriage, and Living Arrangements," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 53(n. 4), pages 1063-1106, December.
  29. James Alm & Leslie Whittington, 2003. "Shacking Up or Shelling Out: Income Taxes, Marriage, and Cohabitation," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 1(3), pages 169-186, September.
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Cited by:
  1. Audrey Light & Yoshiaki Omori, 2013. "Determinants of Long-Term Unions: Who Survives the “Seven Year Itch”?," Population Research and Policy Review, Springer, vol. 32(6), pages 851-891, December.
  2. Stefan Bauernschuster & Rainald Borck, 2012. "The Effect of Child Care on Family Structure: Theory and Evidence," CESifo Working Paper Series 3763, CESifo Group Munich.

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