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What Determines Family Structure?

  • Blau, David M.

    ()

    (Ohio State University)

  • van der Klaauw, Wilbert

    ()

    (Federal Reserve Bank of New York)

We estimate the effects of policy and labor market variables on the fertility, union formation and dissolution, type of union (cohabiting versus married), and partner choices of the NLSY79 cohort of women. These demographic behaviors interact to determine the family structure experienced by the children of these women: living with the biological mother and the married or cohabiting biological father, a married or cohabiting step father, or no man. We find that the average wage rates available to men and women have substantial effects on family structure for children of black and Hispanic mothers, but not for whites. The tax treatment of children also affects family structure. Implementation of welfare reform and passage of unilateral divorce laws had much smaller effects on family structure for the children of this cohort of women, as did changes in welfare benefits. The estimates imply that observed changes from the 1970s to the 2000s in the policy and labor market variables considered here contributed to a reduction in the proportion of time spent living without a father by children of the NLSY79 cohort of women. This suggests that the observed increase in this non-traditional family structure in the U.S. in the last three decades was caused by other factors.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 4912.

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Length: 65 pages
Date of creation: Apr 2010
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Economic Inquiry, 2013, 51 (1), 579–604
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp4912
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  1. Christopher A. Swann, 2004. "Welfare Reform when Recipients are Forward-Looking," Department of Economics Working Papers 04-04, Stony Brook University, Department of Economics.
  2. V. Joseph Hotz, 2003. "The Earned Income Tax Credit," NBER Chapters, in: Means-Tested Transfer Programs in the United States, pages 141-198 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Betsey Stevenson & Justin Wolfers, 2007. "Marriage and divorce: changes and their driving forces," Working Paper Series 2007-03, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  4. Francine D. Blau & Lawrence M. Kahn & Jane Waldfogel, 2002. "The Impact of Welfare Benefits on Single Motherhood and Headship of Young Women: Evidence from the Census," NBER Working Papers 9338, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Leora Friedberg, 1998. "Did Unilateral Divorce Raise Divorce Rates? Evidence from Panel Data," NBER Working Papers 6398, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  11. John Fitzgerald & David Ribar, 2004. "Welfare reform and female headship," Demography, Springer, vol. 41(2), pages 189-212, May.
  12. James Alm & Leslie Whittington, 2003. "Shacking Up or Shelling Out: Income Taxes, Marriage, and Cohabitation," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 1(3), pages 169-186, September.
  13. Marianne P. Bitler & Jonah B. Gelbach & Hilary W. Hoynes & Madeline Zavodny, 2002. "The impact of welfare reform on marriage and divorce," Working Paper 2002-9, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
  14. Justin Wolfers, 2003. "Did Unilateral Divorce Laws Raise Divorce Rates? A Reconciliation and New Results," NBER Working Papers 10014, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  16. Thomas DeLeire & Ariel Kalil, 2001. "Good Things Come in Threes: Single-parent Multigenerational Family Structure and Adolescent Adjustment," JCPR Working Papers 242, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
  17. Alison Aughinbaugh & Charles Pierret & Donna Rothstein, 2005. "The impact of family structure transitions on youth achievement: Evidence from the children of the NlSY79," Demography, Springer, vol. 42(3), pages 447-468, August.
  18. Shannon N. Seitz, 2002. "Accounting for Racial Differences in Marriage and Employment," Working Papers 1009, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
  19. Michael P. Keane & Kenneth I. Wolpin, 2006. "The Role of Labor and Marriage Markets, Preference Heterogeneity and the Welfare System in the Life Cycle Decisions of Black, Hispanic and White Women," PIER Working Paper Archive 06-004, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania.
  20. Francesconi, Marco & Rainer, Helmut & van der Klaauw, Wilbert, 2007. "The Effects of In-Work Benefit Reform in Britain on Couples: Theory and Evidence," IZA Discussion Papers 2980, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  21. Francine D. Blau & Lawrence M. Kahn & Jane Waldfogel, 2000. "Understanding Young Women's Marriage Decisions: The Role of Labor and Marriage Market Conditions," NBER Working Papers 7510, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  22. Sandra Hofferth, 2006. "Residential father family type and child well-being: Investment versus selection," Demography, Springer, vol. 43(1), pages 53-77, February.
  23. Marianne P. Bitler & Jonah B. Gelbach & Hilary W. Hoynes, 2006. "Welfare Reform and Children's Living Arrangements," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 41(1).
  24. Wendy Sigle-Rushton & John Hobcraft & Kathleen Kiernan, 2005. "Parental divorce and subsequent disadvantage: A cross-cohort comparison," Demography, Springer, vol. 42(3), pages 427-446, August.
  25. Audrey Light & Yoshiaki Omori, 2009. "Economic Incentives and Family Formation," Working Papers 09-08, Ohio State University, Department of Economics.
  26. Peters, H Elizabeth, 1986. "Marriage and Divorce: Informational Constraints and Private Contracting," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(3), pages 437-54, June.
  27. David Blau & Wilbert Klaauw, 2008. "A demographic analysis of the family structure experiences of children in the United States," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 6(3), pages 193-221, September.
  28. Ellwood, David T., 2000. "The Impact of the Earned Income Tax Credit and Social Policy Reforms on Work, Marriage, and Living Arrangements," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 53(n. 4), pages 1063-1106, December.
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