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Family structure and wellbeing of out-of-wedlock children

Author

Listed:
  • Frank W. Heiland

    (City University of New York)

  • Shirley H. Liu

    (University of Miami)

Abstract

This study examines the role of the relationship between the biological parents in determining child wellbeing using longitudinal data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (FFCWS). We extend prior research by considering children born to unmarried parents in an investigation of the effect of the relationship structure between the biological parents on infant health and behavior. The main findings are that children born to cohabiting biological parents (i) realize better outcomes, on average, than those born to mothers who are less involved with the child's biological father, and (ii) whose parents marry within a year after childbirth do not display significantly better outcomes than children of parents who continue to cohabit. Furthermore, children born to cohabiting or visiting biological parents who end their relationship within the first year of the child's life are up to 9 percent more likely to have asthma compared to children whose biological parents remain (romantically) involved. The results are robust to a rich set of controls for socioeconomic status, health endowments, home investments, and relationship characteristics.

Suggested Citation

  • Frank W. Heiland & Shirley H. Liu, 2006. "Family structure and wellbeing of out-of-wedlock children," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 15(4), pages 61-104, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:dem:demres:v:15:y:2006:i:4
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    File URL: https://www.demographic-research.org/volumes/vol15/4/15-4.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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.
    2. Reichman, Nancy E. & Teitler, Julien O. & Garfinkel, Irwin & McLanahan, Sara S., 2001. "Fragile Families: sample and design," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 23(4-5), pages 303-326.
    3. Thomas Deleire & Ariel Kalil, 2002. "Good things come in threes: Single-parent multigenerational family structure and adolescent adjustment," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 39(2), pages 393-413, May.
    4. 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).
    5. Weiss, Yoram & Willis, Robert J, 1997. "Match Quality, New Information, and Marital Dissolution," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(1), pages 293-329, January.
    6. Anne Winkler, 1997. "Economic decision-making by cohabitors: findings regarding income pooling," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 29(8), pages 1079-1090.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Shirley H. Liu & Frank Heiland, 2012. "Should We Get Married? The Effect Of Parents' Marriage On Out‐Of‐Wedlock Children," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 50(1), pages 17-38, January.
    2. repec:pri:crcwel:wp07-02-ff is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Mir Ali & Olugbenga Ajilore, 2011. "Can Marriage Reduce Risky Health Behavior for African-Americans?," Journal of Family and Economic Issues, Springer, vol. 32(2), pages 191-203, June.
    4. Shirley H. Liu & Frank Heiland, 2007. "New Estimates on the Effect of Parental Separation on Child Health," Working Papers 0719, University of Miami, Department of Economics.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    child asthma; cohabitation; family; fragile families; infant wellbeing; marriage;

    JEL classification:

    • J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics
    • Z0 - Other Special Topics - - General

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