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How Does Family Structure Affect Children's Outcomes? Evidence from the Civil War

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  • Frankel, David M.

Abstract

We propose a novel approach to measuring the causal effect of family structure on a child’s outcomes. In a war, some fathers are killed in action and cannot return to their families. This creates a natural experiment in which the effects of a father’s absence can be tested. Using data from the U.S. Civil War, we find no evidence that a father’s death in the war affected his child’s labor income as a young adult. We also find no effect on labor force participation or the chance of being married in 1880. Daughters of fathers who died were less likely to be students in 1880, although we find no such effect on sons.

Suggested Citation

  • Frankel, David M., 2007. "How Does Family Structure Affect Children's Outcomes? Evidence from the Civil War," Staff General Research Papers Archive 12819, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:isu:genres:12819
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    File URL: http://www2.econ.iastate.edu/papers/p3869-2007-05-24.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Bhashkar Mazumder, 2005. "Fortunate Sons: New Estimates of Intergenerational Mobility in the United States Using Social Security Earnings Data," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 87(2), pages 235-255, May.
    2. Ribar, David C., 1993. "A multinomial logit analysis of teenage fertility and high school completion," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 12(2), pages 153-164, June.
    3. 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.
    4. Maria G. Perozek, 1998. "A Reexamination of the Strategic Bequest Motive," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(2), pages 423-445, April.
    5. Ver Ploeg, Michele, 2002. "Children from disrupted families as adults: family structure, college attendance and college completion," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 21(2), pages 171-184, April.
    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. Manski, C.F. & Sandefur, G.D. & Mclanahan, S. & Powers, D., 1990. "Alternative Estimates Of The Effect Of Family Stucture During Adolescence On Hight School Graduation," Working papers 90-31, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
    8. Robert J. Willis, 1999. "A Theory of Out-of-Wedlock Childbearing," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(S6), pages 33-64, December.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Family structure; female headed families; Civil War; natural experiments;

    JEL classification:

    • J00 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General - - - General

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