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

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  • Painter, Gary
  • Levine, David I.

Abstract

Growing up in a family that lacks a biological father is correlated with a number of poor outcomes for youths. This study uses the National Educational Longitudinal Survey of 1988 (NELS) to examine the extent to which the apparent effects of divorce or remarriage are not causal, but are due to pre-existing problems or advantages of the family or youth. We find that the correlations between family structure and youth outcomes are causal: neither divorce nor remarriage appear to be related to pre-existing characteristics of the youth or family. Finally, unlike some previous research, we do not find gender differences in the effects of the presence of a father or stepfather.

Suggested Citation

  • Painter, Gary & Levine, David I., 1999. "Family Structure and Youths' Outcomes: Which Correlations are Causal?," Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, Working Paper Series qt3g7899gz, Institute of Industrial Relations, UC Berkeley.
  • Handle: RePEc:cdl:indrel:qt3g7899gz
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    1. Leora Friedberg, 1998. "Did Unilateral Divorce Raise Divorce Rates? Evidence from Panel Data," NBER Working Papers 6398, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Larry Bumpass, 1984. "Children and marital disruption: A replication and update," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), pages 71-82.
    3. 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.
    4. McFadden, Daniel, 1974. "The measurement of urban travel demand," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, pages 303-328.
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