Getting Inside the Family: How Parents’ Relationship Quality Is Linked to Children’s Behavior in Married and Cohabiting Families
AbstractWhile an extensive literature has shown that family structure is linked with child wellbeing, less well understood is how the dynamics within similar types of families affect children. Family systems theory posits that parents’ couple relationship is important for promoting children’s wellbeing. In this paper, we use data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study to examine how couple supportiveness in married and cohabiting families is related to trajectories of children’s externalizing and internalizing behavior problems throughout early and middle childhood. Using latent growth curve and fixed effects models, we find that parents’ greater supportiveness is associated with lower levels of children’s behavior problems in both married and cohabiting families. Using cross-lagged structural equation models to examine the direction of this association, we find that while children’s behavior problems have a modest effect on the subsequent quality of parents’ relationships, parents’ relationship quality has a greater effect on children’s behavior problems over time. Overall, our study suggests that more positive couple interactions are beneficial for children residing with both of their biological parents.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Research on Child Wellbeing. in its series Working Papers with number 1428.
Date of creation: Oct 2012
Date of revision:
Parent Relationship Quality; Child Behavior; child wellbeing; Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study;
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
- D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
- I00 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - General - - - General
- I32 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Measurement and Analysis of Poverty
- J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
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- Smith, James Patrick & Smith, Gillian C., 2010. "Long-term economic costs of psychological problems during childhood," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 71(1), pages 110-115, July.
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- Gabriella Conti & James J. Heckman, 2012.
"The Economics of Child Well-Being,"
NBER Working Papers
18466, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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