Should We Get Married? The Effect of Parents’ Marriage on Out-of-Wedlock Children
Using a representative sample of children all born to unwed parents drawn from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (FFCWS), we investigate whether marriage after childbirth has a causal effect on early child cognitive ability, using a treatment outcome approach to account for selfselection into marriage. Comparing children with similar background characteristics and parental mate-selection patterns who differ only in terms of whether their parents marry after childbirth, marriage between unwed biological parents leads to a four point increase in their child’s Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (PPVT) score at age three relative to children whose parents remain unmarried.
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