Family Structure and Youths' Outcomes: Which Correlations are Causal?
Growing up in a family that lacks a biological father is correlated with lower education and higher rates of teen out-of-wedlock fertility. This study uses the National Educational Longitudinal Survey of 1988 (NELS) to examine the extent to which the apparent effects of divorce or remarriage during a youth's high-school years were not causal, but were due to preexisting disadvantages of the family or youth. The correlations between family structure and youth outcomes appear to be largely causal: neither divorce nor remarriage during a youth's high school years have a strong relation to preexisting characteristics of the youth or family.
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