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Does Single Parenthood Increase the Probability of Teenage Promiscuity, Drug Use, and Crime? Evidence from Divorce Law Changes

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Author Info

  • Heather Antecol

    (Claremont McKenna College)

  • Kelly Bedard

    (UC - Santa Barbara)

  • Eric Helland

    (Claremont McKenna College)

Abstract

It has long since been established that children raised by single parents are more likely to become sexually active, commit illegal acts, and use illegal drugs at young ages. What has not been determined is whether or not there is a causal effect associated with the disintegration of the family. Would these children have been more likely to participate in ‘deviant’ behavior even if their family structure had remained intact? This study provides evidence in favor of a negative causal impact of single-parent status. Using state-level divorce law changes to instrument for years that the biological father lives in the household, we find that youth who spend part of their childhood/youth living in a household that does not include their biological father are more likely to smoke regularly, become sexually active, and be convicted of a crime.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Claremont Colleges in its series Claremont Colleges Working Papers with number 2001-11.

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Date of creation: Apr 2001
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Handle: RePEc:clm:clmeco:2001-11

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Related research

Keywords: Family Structure; Marital Dissolution; Youth Outcomes;

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References

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  1. Corak, Miles, 2001. "Death and Divorce: The Long-Term Consequences of Parental Loss on Adolescents," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 19(3), pages 682-715, July.
  2. Jonathan Gruber, 2000. "Is Making Divorce Easier Bad for Children? The Long Run Implications of Unilateral Divorce," NBER Working Papers 7968, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Comanor, William & Phillips, Llad, 1998. "The Impact of Income and Family Structure on Delinquency," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt4m46m389, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
  4. James J. Heckman, 1977. "Dummy Endogenous Variables in a Simultaneous Equation System," NBER Working Papers 0177, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Manski, C.F. & Sandefur, G.D. & Mclanahan, S. & Powers, D., 1990. "Alternative Estimates Of The Effect Of Family Stucture During Adolescence On Hight School Graduation," Working papers 90-31, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
  6. Newey, Whitney K., 1987. "Efficient estimation of limited dependent variable models with endogenous explanatory variables," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 36(3), pages 231-250, November.
  7. Leora Friedberg, 1998. "Did Unilateral Divorce Raise Divorce Rates? Evidence from Panel Data," NBER Working Papers 6398, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Amemiya, Takeshi, 1978. "The Estimation of a Simultaneous Equation Generalized Probit Model," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 46(5), pages 1193-1205, September.
  9. Douglas Staiger & James H. Stock, 1997. "Instrumental Variables Regression with Weak Instruments," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(3), pages 557-586, May.
  10. Rivers, Douglas & Vuong, Quang H., 1988. "Limited information estimators and exogeneity tests for simultaneous probit models," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 39(3), pages 347-366, November.
  11. Amemiya, Takeshi, 1979. "The Estimation of a Simultaneous-Equation Tobit Model," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 20(1), pages 169-81, February.
  12. Anne Case & I-Fen Lin & Sara McLanahan, 2000. "Understanding Child Support Trends: Economic, Demographic, and Political Contributions," NBER Working Papers 8056, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Ellman, Ira Mark & Lohr, Sharon L., 1998. "Dissolving the relationship between divorce laws and divorce rates," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(3), pages 341-359, September.
  14. Evans, William N & Schwab, Robert M, 1995. "Finishing High School and Starting College: Do Catholic Schools Make a Difference?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 110(4), pages 941-74, November.
  15. Gary Painter & David I. Levine, 2000. "Family Structure and Youths' Outcomes: Which Correlations are Causal?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 35(3), pages 524-549.
  16. Smith, Richard J & Blundell, Richard W, 1986. "An Exogeneity Test for a Simultaneous Equation Tobit Model with an Application to Labor Supply," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 54(3), pages 679-85, May.
  17. John Bound & David A. Jaeger & Regina Baker, 1993. "The Cure Can Be Worse than the Disease: A Cautionary Tale Regarding Instrumental Variables," NBER Technical Working Papers 0137, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Cited by:
  1. Donna K. Ginther & Robert A. Pollak, 2000. "Does family structure affect children's educational outcomes?," Working Paper 2000-13, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
  2. William S. Comanor & Llad Phillips, 2002. "The Impact of Income and Family Structure on Delinquency," Journal of Applied Economics, Universidad del CEMA, vol. 0, pages 209-232, November.

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