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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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Suggested Citation

  • DAVID M. BLAU & WILBERT van der KLAAUW, 2013. "What Determines Family Structure?," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 51(1), pages 579-604, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:ecinqu:v:51:y:2013:i:1:p:579-604
    DOI: j.1465-7295.2010.00334.x
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1111/j.1465-7295.2010.00334.x
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    Cited by:

    1. Moffitt, Robert A. & Phelan, Brian J. & Winkler, Anne E., 2015. "Welfare Rules, Incentives, and Family Structure," IZA Discussion Papers 9127, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. repec:msl:workng:1008 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Kamila Cygan-Rehm & Daniel Kühnle & Regina T. Riphahn, 2017. "Love your Leave, Don't Leave your Love! Paid Parental Leave and Children's Living Arrangements," CESifo Working Paper Series 6319, CESifo Group Munich.
    4. Pinka Chatterji & Xiangshi Liu & Baris K. Yörük, 2018. "The Effects of the 2010 Affordable Care Act Dependent Care Provision on Family Structure and Public Program Participation among Young Adults," CESifo Working Paper Series 7242, CESifo Group Munich.
    5. Audrey Light & Yoshiaki Omori, 2013. "Determinants of Long-Term Unions: Who Survives the “Seven Year Itch”?," Population Research and Policy Review, Springer;Southern Demographic Association (SDA), vol. 32(6), pages 851-891, December.
    6. repec:eee:labeco:v:53:y:2018:i:c:p:182-197 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Cygan-Rehm, Kamila & Kühnle, Daniel & Riphahn, Regina T., 2018. "Paid Parental Leave and Families' Living Arrangements," IZA Discussion Papers 11533, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    8. Stefan Bauernschuster & Rainald Borck, 2012. "The Effect of Child Care on Family Structure: Theory and Evidence," CESifo Working Paper Series 3763, CESifo Group Munich.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure

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