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Family structure and wellbeing of out-of-wedlock children

  • Frank Heiland

    (Florida State University)

  • Shirley H. Liu

    (University of Miami)

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.

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File URL: http://www.demographic-research.org/volumes/vol15/4/15-4.pdf
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Article provided by Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany in its journal Demographic Research.

Volume (Year): 15 (2006)
Issue (Month): 4 (September)
Pages: 61-104

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Handle: RePEc:dem:demres:v:15:y:2006:i:4
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.demogr.mpg.de/

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  1. 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).
  2. Thomas DeLeire & Ariel Kalil, 2001. "Good Things Come in Threes: Single-parent Multigenerational Family Structure and Adolescent Adjustment," JCPR Working Papers 242, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
  3. Yoram Weiss & Robert J. Willis, . "Match Quality, New Information and Marital Dissolution," University of Chicago - Population Research Center 95-13, Chicago - Population Research Center.
  4. Anne Winkler, 1997. "Economic decision-making by cohabitors: findings regarding income pooling," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 29(8), pages 1079-1090.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
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