What do the half-century decline in U.S. marriage and the attendant rise in single parenthood mean for the economic well-being of children, especially children living in single-parent families?
Adam Thomas and Isabel Sawhill show how differing living arrangements can be expected to affect families’ economic well-being.
- Married-parent and cohabiting households, for example, can benefit from economies of scale and from having two adult earners. The availability of child support for single-parent families do not replace the economic benefits of marriage.
- Consistent with these expectations, national data on family income show that across all races and for a variety of income measures, children in lone-parent families (single-parent households with no cohabiter) have less family income and are more likely to be poor than children in married-parent families.
- There is even research that simulates marriages between existing single mothers and unattached men with similar characteristics that shows that child poverty rates would drop substantially if these mothers were to marry.
- Cohabiting families are generally better off economically than lone-parent families but considerably worse off than married-parent families.
- The authors conclude that a continuation of recent declines in single parenthood, linked most recently to declines in teen and out-of-wedlock births, offers great promise for improving the economic welfare of U.S. children.
- family structure does affect family resources
- Therefore the arrangement that gives a family the best result financially is the MARRIED TWO PARENT FAMILY.
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