Journal of Population Economics

, Volume 14, Issue 2, pp 249–270

Family structure and children's achievements

  • John F. Ermisch
  • Marco Francesconi

DOI: 10.1007/s001480000028

Cite this article as:
Ermisch, J. & Francesconi, M. J Popul Econ (2001) 14: 249. doi:10.1007/s001480000028


In this paper we estimate the relationships between several outcomes in early adulthood (educational attainment, economic inactivity, early childbearing, distress and smoking) and experience of life in a single-parent family during childhood. The analysis is performed using a special sample of young adults, who are selected from the first five waves of the British Household Panel Survey (1991–95) and can be matched with at least one sibling over the same period. We also perform level (logit) estimation using another sample of young adults from the BHPS. We find that: (i) experience of life in a single-parent family is usually associated with disadvantageous outcomes for young adults; (ii) most of the unfavourable outcomes are linked to an early family disruption, when the child was aged 0–5; and (iii) level estimates, whose causal interpretation relies on stronger assumptions, confirm the previous results and show that, for most outcomes, the adverse family structure effect persists even after controlling for the economic conditions of the family of origin.

JEL classification: J12 I20 I30 
Key words: Family structure intergenerational links siblings estimators 

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • John F. Ermisch
    • 1
  • Marco Francesconi
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute for Social and Economic Research, University of Essex, Colchester CO4 3SQ, United Kingdom (Fax: ++44-1206-873151; e-mail:

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