Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login

Does Family Structure Affect Children's Educational Outcomes?

Contents:

Author Info

  • Donna K. Ginther
  • Robert A. Pollak

Abstract

This paper makes two contributions. First, it adds to the growing literature describing correlations between children's educational outcomes and family structure. Although popular discussions focus on the distinction between two-parent families and single-parent families, McLanahan and Sandefur [1994] show that outcomes for stepchildren are similar to outcomes for children in single-parent families. McLanahan and Sandefur describe their results as showing that the crucial distinction is between children who were reared by both biological parents and children who were not. This description is misleading. This paper shows that educational outcomes for both types of children in blended families -- stepchildren and their half-siblings who are the joint biological children of both parents -- are similar to each other and substantially worse than outcomes for children reared in traditional nuclear families. We conclude that, as a description of the data, the crucial distinction is between children reared in traditional nuclear families (i.e., families in which all children are the joint biological children of both parents) and children reared in other family structures (e.g., single-parent families or blended families). The paper's second contribution is to clarify the question, What is the effect of family structure on outcomes for children?' Interpreted literally, the question asks about the effect of one endogenous variable on another. We argue for reformulating the family structure question by specifying some explicit counterfactual, and express a preference for a policy-relevant counterfactual. As an example, we suggest considering the effect of reducing the marriage penalty' in the earned-income tax credit (EITC) that makes the credit essentially unavailable to two-earner couples. The EITC marriage penalty counterfactual, like any policy-relevant counterfactual, focuses attention on outcomes for those children whose parent's behavior is affected by the incentives created by the policy change.

Download Info

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w9628.pdf
Download Restriction: no

Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 9628.

as in new window
Length:
Date of creation: Apr 2003
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9628

Note: ED LS
Contact details of provider:
Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
Phone: 617-868-3900
Email:
Web page: http://www.nber.org
More information through EDIRC

Related research

Keywords:

Other versions of this item:

Find related papers by JEL classification:

This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

References

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
as in new window
  1. Derek Neal, 2001. "The Economics of Family Structure," NBER Working Papers 8519, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Pollak, Robert A, 1969. "Conditional Demand Functions and Consumption Theory," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 83(1), pages 60-78, February.
  3. Heckman, James J & Lochner, Lance & Taber, Christopher, 1998. "General-Equilibrium Treatment Effects: A Study of Tuition Policy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(2), pages 381-86, May.
  4. 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.
  5. C-B. An & R. H. Haveman & B. L. Wolfe, . "The "window problem" in studies of children's attainments: A methodological exploration," Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers 977-92, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty.
  6. Joshua Angrist, 1989. "Lifetime Earnings and the Vietnam Era Draft Lottery: Evidence from Social Security Administrative Records," Working Papers 631, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  7. John Bound & Gary Solon, 1998. "Double Trouble: On the Value of Twins-Based Estimation of the Return to Schooling," NBER Working Papers 6721, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Corak, Miles Heisz, Andrew, 1999. "Death and Divorce: The Long-term Consequences of Parental Loss on Adolescents," Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series 1999135e, Statistics Canada, Analytical Studies Branch.
  9. Manski, C.F., 1992. "Identification Problems in the Social Sciences," Working papers 9217, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
  10. Chamberlain, Gary, 1980. "Analysis of Covariance with Qualitative Data," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(1), pages 225-38, January.
  11. Behrman, Jere R & Rosenzweig, Mark R & Taubman, Paul, 1994. "Endowments and the Allocation of Schooling in the Family and in the Marriage Market: The Twins Experiment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(6), pages 1131-74, December.
  12. R. A. Wojtkiewicz, . "Simplicity and complexity in the effects of parental structure on high school graduation," Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers 993-93, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty.
  13. Scott Boggess, 1998. "Family structure, economic status, and educational attainment," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 11(2), pages 205-222.
  14. David M. Blau, 1999. "The Effect Of Income On Child Development," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 81(2), pages 261-276, May.
  15. Geronimus, Arline T & Korenman, Sanders, 1992. "The Socioeconomic Consequences of Teen Childbearing Reconsidered," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(4), pages 1187-214, November.
  16. 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.
  17. Heather Antecol & Kelly Bedard, 2002. "Does Single Parenthood Increase the Probability of Teenage Promiscuity, Drug Use and Crime?," Claremont Colleges Working Papers 2002-23, Claremont Colleges.
  18. Robert Haveman & Barbara Wolfe, 1995. "The Determinants of Children's Attainments: A Review of Methods and Findings," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 33(4), pages 1829-1878, December.
  19. Roger Wojtkiewicz, 1993. "Simplicity and complexity in the effects of parental structure on high school graduation," Demography, Springer, vol. 30(4), pages 701-717, November.
  20. Griliches, Zvi, 1979. "Sibling Models and Data in Economics: Beginnings of a Survey," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(5), pages S37-64, October.
  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. Zvi Eckstein & Kenneth I. Wolpin, 1999. "Why Youths Drop Out of High School: The Impact of Preferences, Opportunities, and Abilities," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 67(6), pages 1295-1340, November.
  23. John F. Ermisch & Marco Francesconi, 2001. "Family structure and children's achievements," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 14(2), pages 249-270.
  24. 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.
  25. I-Fen Lin & Anne Case & Sara McLanahan, 1999. "Household Resource Allocation in Stepfamilies: Darwin Reflects on the Plight of Cinderella," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(2), pages 234-238, May.
  26. Robert J. Willis, 1999. "A Theory of Out-of-Wedlock Childbearing," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(S6), pages S33-S64, December.
  27. Antecol, Heather & Bedard, Kelly & Helland, Eric, 2001. "Does Single Parenthood Increase the Probability of Teenage Promiscuity, Drug Use, and Crime? Evidence from Divorce Law Changes," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt3fc7n20b, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
  28. Heather Antecol & Kelly Bedard & Eric Helland, 2001. "Does Single Parenthood Increase the Probability of Teenage Promiscuity, Drug Use, and Crime? Evidence from Divorce Law Changes," Claremont Colleges Working Papers 2001-11, Claremont Colleges.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

Citations

Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
as in new window

Cited by:
  1. Rainer Winkelmann, 2003. "Parental Separation and Well-Being of Youths," SOI - Working Papers 0312, Socioeconomic Institute - University of Zurich.
  2. Amelie Constant & Klaus F. Zimmermann, 2004. "Occupational Choice across Generations," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 395, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  3. Björklund, Anders & Sundström, Marianne, 2004. "Parental Separation and Children's Educational Attainment: A Siblings Analysis on Swedish Register Data," Working Paper Series 4/2004, Swedish Institute for Social Research.
  4. Akresh, Richard, 2004. "Adjusting Household Structure: School Enrollment Impacts of Child Fostering in Burkina Faso," IZA Discussion Papers 1379, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. Eirik Evenhouse & Siobhan Reilly, 2000. "Is the Wicked Stepmother Just a Fairytale?," Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers 0049, Vanderbilt University Department of Economics.
  6. Mohanty, Madhu S. & Ullah, Aman, 2012. "Direct and indirect effects of happiness on wage: A simultaneous equations approach," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 41(2), pages 143-152.
  7. Björklund, Anders & Sundström, Marianne, 2002. "Parental Separation and Children's Educational Attainment: A Siblings Approach," IZA Discussion Papers 643, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  8. Philippe Mahler & Rainer Winkelmann, 2004. "Secondary School Track Selection of Single-Parent Children – Evidence from the German Socio-Economic Panel," SOI - Working Papers 0415, Socioeconomic Institute - University of Zurich, revised Oct 2005.
  9. Philippe Mahler & Rainer Winkelmann, 2005. "Single Motherhood and (Un)Equal EducationalOpportunities: Evidence for Germany," SOI - Working Papers 0512, Socioeconomic Institute - University of Zurich.
  10. Björklund, Anders & Ginther, Donna K. & Sundström, Marianne, 2004. "Family Structure and Child Outcomes in the United States and Sweden," IZA Discussion Papers 1259, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  11. Heather Antecol & Kelly Bedard, 2002. "Does Single Parenthood Increase the Probability of Teenage Promiscuity, Drug Use and Crime?," Claremont Colleges Working Papers 2002-23, Claremont Colleges.
  12. John Ermisch, 2003. "How Do Parents Affect the Life Chances of Their Children as Adults? An Idiosyncratic Review," Social and Economic Dimensions of an Aging Population Research Papers 101, McMaster University.

Lists

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

Statistics

Access and download statistics

Corrections

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9628. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ().

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.