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ERIC Number: ED477644
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2003-May-27
Pages: 48
Abstractor: N/A
The Economic Consequences of Absent Parents. JCPR Working Paper.
Page, Marianne E.; Stevens, Ann Huff
In recent years, the belief that marriage bestows large economic gains has generated enthusiasm for policy proposals that encourage the formation and continuation of two-parent families. This study examined the effects of family structure on economic resources, controlling for unobservable family background characteristics. Data were drawn from the 1968 through 1993 waves of the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, a longitudinal survey conducted by the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research. The present analysis was based on a sample of children born into two-parent families, used to estimate the effects of divorce, and a second sample of children born into single-parent families, used estimate losses associated with being born out-of-wedlock. Findings indicated that family structure has a significant impact on the economic status of families with children. In the long run, family income of children who parents divorce and remain divorced for at least 6 years falls by 45 percent, and food consumption is reduced by 16 percent. Among the less-studied population of children born to single parents, there is no evidence of an increase in food consumption, but those whose parents marry and remain married for at least 6 years experience income gains of around 70 percent. The more modest effects of living with a single parent on food consumption suggest that children's access to essentials may be somewhat better protected than income estimates indicate. While these estimated effects are large, it is important to note that: because estimates are based on variation within the same families over time, they are substantially smaller than estimates based on cross-national comparisons of different types of families; the estimated changes do not apply to the typical child who experiences a parental divorce at a point in time, but rather to those whose parents are currently divorced; and while the estimate that single-parent families have substantially lower incomes than they would if a second parent were in the household, these income losses do not necessarily translate into a decline in children's resources. (Contains 38 references.) (HTH)
University of Chicago, Harris School of Public Policy Studies, 1155 E. 60th Street, Chicago, IL 60637. Tel: 773-702-0472; Fax: 773-702-0926; e-mail:; Web site: For full text:
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Joint Center for Poverty Research, IL.