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Family Structure and Youths' Outcomes: Which Correlations are Causal?

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  • Gary Painter
  • David I. Levine

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Gary Painter & David I. Levine, 2000. "Family Structure and Youths' Outcomes: Which Correlations are Causal?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 35(3), pages 524-549.
  • Handle: RePEc:uwp:jhriss:v:35:y:2000:i:3:p:524-549
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    1. Larry Bumpass, 1984. "Children and marital disruption: A replication and update," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 21(1), pages 71-82, February.
    2. McFadden, Daniel, 1974. "The measurement of urban travel demand," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 303-328, November.
    3. Leora Friedberg, 1998. "Did Unilateral Divorce Raise Divorce Rates? Evidence from Panel Data," NBER Working Papers 6398, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. V. Joseph Hotz & Charles H. Mullin & Seth G. Sanders, 1997. "Bounding Causal Effects Using Data from a Contaminated Natural Experiment: Analysing the Effects of Teenage Childbearing," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 64(4), pages 575-603.
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