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What Determines Family Structure?

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Author Info

  • Blau, David M.

    ()
    (Ohio State University)

  • van der Klaauw, Wilbert

    ()
    (Federal Reserve Bank of New York)

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

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 4912.

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Length: 65 pages
Date of creation: Apr 2010
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Economic Inquiry, 2013, 51 (1), 579–604
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp4912

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Keywords: family structure;

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References

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  1. Christopher A. Swann, 2004. "Welfare Reform when Recipients are Forward-Looking," Department of Economics Working Papers 04-04, Stony Brook University, Department of Economics.
  2. Michael P. Keane & Kenneth I. Wolpin, 2010. "The Role Of Labor And Marriage Markets, Preference Heterogeneity, And The Welfare System In The Life Cycle Decisions Of Black, Hispanic, And White Women," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 51(3), pages 851-892, 08.
  3. Francesconi, Marco & Rainer, Helmut & van der Klaauw, Wilbert, 2007. "The Effects of In-Work Benefit Reform in Britain on Couples: Theory and Evidence," IZA Discussion Papers 2980, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Marianne P. Bitler & Jonah B. Gelbach & Hilary W. Hoynes, 2003. "Welfare Reform and Children's Living Arrangements," Working Papers 111, RAND Corporation Publications Department.
  5. Blau, David M. & van der Klaauw, Wilbert, 2007. "A Demographic Analysis of the Family Structure Experiences of Children in the United States," IZA Discussion Papers 3001, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  6. Audrey Light & Yoshiaki Omori, 2009. "Economic Incentives and Family Formation," Working Papers 09-08, Ohio State University, Department of Economics.
  7. Alesina, Alberto & Giuliano, Paola, 2006. "Divorce, Fertility and the Shot Gun Marriage," IZA Discussion Papers 2157, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  8. Marianne Bitler & Jonah Gelbach & Hilary Hoynes & Madeline Zavodny, 2004. "The impact of welfare reform on marriage and divorce," Demography, Springer, vol. 41(2), pages 213-236, May.
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  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. Shannon N. Seitz, 2002. "Accounting for Racial Differences in Marriage and Employment," Working Papers 1009, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
  16. Leora Friedberg, 1998. "Did Unilateral Divorce Raise Divorce Rates? Evidence from Panel Data," NBER Working Papers 6398, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Betsey Stevenson & Justin Wolfers, 2007. "Marriage and divorce: changes and their driving forces," Working Paper Series 2007-03, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  18. 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.
  19. John Fitzgerald & David Ribar, 2004. "Welfare reform and female headship," Demography, Springer, vol. 41(2), pages 189-212, May.
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  21. Kevin Lang & Jay L. Zagorsky, 2001. "Does Growing up with a Parent Absent Really Hurt?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 36(2), pages 253-273.
  22. Sandra Hofferth, 2006. "Residential father family type and child well-being: Investment versus selection," Demography, Springer, vol. 43(1), pages 53-77, February.
  23. 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).
  24. 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.
  25. 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, 2012. "Determinants of Long-Term Unions: Who Survives the “Seven Year Itch”?," Working Papers 12-02, Ohio State University, Department of Economics.
  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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