Economic Trajectories in Non-Traditional Families with Children

by Sarah O. Meadows, Sara S. McLanahan, Jean T. Knab

Download eBook for Free

FormatFile SizeNotes
PDF file 0.3 MB

Use Adobe Acrobat Reader version 10 or higher for the best experience.

Using data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study this paper examines associations between family structure and economic trajectories during the first five years after a child’s birth, paying special attention to non-traditional families. Among families with stable structures, married-parent families have the highest economic wellbeing, followed by cohabiting-parent families and then single mothers. Among unstable families, exits from marriage and cohabitation are associated with declines in mothers’ economic wellbeing. Entering coresidential unions after a non-marital birth is associated with gains in single mothers’ economic wellbeing, especially if those unions involve the child’s biological father. Findings are robust across several measures of economic wellbeing including household income, income-to-needs ratios, and material hardship.

This paper series was made possible by the NIA funded RAND Center for the Study of Aging and the NICHD funded RAND Population Research Center.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Working paper series. RAND working papers are intended to share researchers' latest findings and to solicit informal peer review. They have been approved for circulation by RAND but may not have been formally edited or peer reviewed.

This document and trademark(s) contained herein are protected by law. This representation of RAND intellectual property is provided for noncommercial use only. Unauthorized posting of this publication online is prohibited; linking directly to this product page is encouraged. Permission is required from RAND to reproduce, or reuse in another form, any of its research documents for commercial purposes. For information on reprint and reuse permissions, please visit www.rand.org/pubs/permissions.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.