A demographic analysis of the family structure experiences of children in the United States
- First Online:
- 130 Downloads
This paper analyzes the family structure experiences of children in the U.S. Childbearing and transitions among single, cohabiting, and married states are analyzed jointly. A novel contribution is to distinguish men by their relationship to children: biological father or stepfather. The analysis uses data from the NLSY79. A key finding is that children of black mothers spend on average only 33% of their childhood living with the biological father and mother, compared to 74% for children of white mothers. The two most important proximate demographic determinants of the large racial gap are the much higher propensity of black women to conceive children outside of a union, and the lower rate of “shotgun” unions for blacks compared to whites. Another notable finding is that cohabitation plays a negligible role in the family structure experiences of children of white mothers, and even for children of black mothers accounts for less than one fifth of time spent living with both biological parents.
KeywordsFamily structure Children Marriage Cohabitation
- Aquilino, W. (1996). The life course of children born to unmarried mothers: Childhood living arrangements and young adult outcomes. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 58, 293–310.Google Scholar
- Blau, D., & van der Klaauw, W. (2007). A demographic analysis of the family structure experiences of children in the United States. IZA Working Paper 3001 (http://www.iza.org).
- Fields, J., & Casper, L. (2001). America’s families and living arrangements. U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Reports P20-537, June.Google Scholar
- Kreider, R., & Fields, J. (2002). Number, timing, and duration of marriages and divorces: 1996. U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Reports P70-80, Feb.Google Scholar
- Manning, W. D. (2004). Children and the stability of cohabiting couples. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 66, 674–689.Google Scholar
- Martin, J., Hamilton, B., Ventura, S., Menaker, F., & Park, M. (2002). Births: Final data for 2000. National Center for Health Statistics, National Vital Statistics Reports, 50 (6), Feb. 12.Google Scholar
- McLanahan, S., & Sandefur, G. (1994). Growing up with a single parent. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
- Moore, K. A., Evans, V. J., Brooks-Gunn, J., & Roth, J. (2001). What are good child outcomes? In A. Thornton (Ed.), The well-being of children and families: Research and data needs (pp. 59–84). Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.Google Scholar
- Upchurch, D., Lillard, L., & Panis, C. (2001). The impact of nonmarital childbearing on subsequent marital formation and dissolution. In L. Wu & B. Wolfe (Eds.), Out of wedlock: Causes and consequences of nonmarital fertility. New York: The Russell Sage Foundation.Google Scholar