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Is Marriage Always Good for Children?: Evidence from Families Affected by Incarceration

  • Keith Finlay
  • David Neumark

Never-married motherhood is associated with worse educational outcomes for children. But this association may reflect other factors that also determine family structure, rather than causal effects. We use incarceration rates for men as instrumental variables in estimating the effect of never-married motherhood on the high school dropout rate of black and His-panic children. We find that unobserved factors drive the negative relationship between never-married motherhood and child education, at least for children of women whose marriage decisions are affected by incarceration of men. For Hispanics we find evidence that these children actually may be better off living with a never-married mother.

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File URL: http://jhr.uwpress.org/cgi/reprint/45/4/1046
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Article provided by University of Wisconsin Press in its journal Journal of Human Resources.

Volume (Year): 45 (2010)
Issue (Month): 4 ()
Pages: 1046-1088

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Handle: RePEc:uwp:jhriss:v:45:y:2010:i:4:p:1046-1088
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://jhr.uwpress.org/

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  1. 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.
  2. Chernozhukov, Victor & Hansen, Christian, 2008. "The reduced form: A simple approach to inference with weak instruments," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 100(1), pages 68-71, July.
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  4. Pencavel, John, 1998. "Assortative Mating by Schooling and the Work Behavior of Wives and Husbands," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(2), pages 326-29, May.
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  6. Kevin Lang & Jay L. Zagorsky, 2001. "Does Growing up with a Parent Absent Really Hurt?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 36(2), pages 253-273.
  7. Stéphane Mechoulan, 2006. "The External Effects of Black-Male Incarceration on Black Females," Working Papers tecipa-240, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
  8. Neumark, David & Wascher, William, 2003. "Minimum wages and skill acquisition: another look at schooling effects," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 1-10, February.
  9. Lance Lochner & Enrico Moretti, 2001. "The Effect of Education on Crime: Evidence from Prison Inmates, Arrests, and Self-Reports," NBER Working Papers 8605, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Keith Finlay & Leandro M. Magnusson, 2009. "Implementing weak-instrument robust tests for a general class of instrumental-variables models," Stata Journal, StataCorp LP, vol. 9(3), pages 398-421, September.
  11. Joshua D. Angrist, 1991. "Instrumental Variables Estimation of Average Treatment Effects in Econometrics and Epidemiology," NBER Technical Working Papers 0115, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Donna Ginther & Robert Pollak, 2004. "Family structure and children’s educational outcomes: Blended families, stylized facts, and descriptive regressions," Demography, Springer, vol. 41(4), pages 671-696, November.
  13. Angrist, J.D., 1991. "Linear Instrumental Variables Estimation Of Average Treatment Effects In Nonlinear Models," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1542, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
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