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Unwed parents or fragile families? Implications for welfare and child support policy

Date Added to Library: 
Wednesday, March 2, 2016 - 14:36
Individual Author: 
McLanahan, Sara
Garfinkel, Irv
Reichman, Nancy
Teitler, Julien
Reference Type: 
Published Date: 
May 2000
Published Date (Text): 
May 2000
Working Paper
Issue Number: 

Nearly a third of all births in the United States today occur outside marriage, up from 6 percent in the early 1960s (Ventura et al. 1995). The proportions are even higher among poor and minority populations--at 40 percent among Hispanics and 70 percent among African Americans. Non- marital childbearing also is increasing throughout the western European countries. Indeed, the rate of non- marital births is higher in the Scandinavian countries (and France) than it is in the United States (Ventura et. al. 1995). The US is different from these other countries in one important respect, however. Whereas in Europe the overwhelming majority of unwed parents are living together when their child is born, in the US less than half of new unwed parents are cohabiting. Thus, children born outside marriage in the US are much more likely to be poor and much more likely to experience father absence than children born outside marriage in other countries. Both poverty and father absence have been shown to negatively affect children’s future life chances (McLanahan and Sandefur 1994, Duncan and Brooks-Gunn 1997). (Author introduction)


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