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The Effects of Welfare and Child Support Policies on Union Formation.

Publication Year: 
Personal Author: 
Carlson, Marcia.
Garfinkel, Irwin.
McLanahan, Sara.
Mincy, Ronald.
Journal Article
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We use data from a new longitudinal survey - the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study - to examine how welfare and child support policies, and local labor market conditions, affect union formation among unmarried parents who have just had a child together. We use multinomial logistic regression to estimate the effects of the policy variables along with economic, cultural/interpersonal, and other factors on whether (relative to being in a cohabiting relationship) parents are not romantically involved, romantically involved living apart, or married to each other about one year after the child's birth. We find that - contrary to some previous research - higher welfare benefits discourage couples from breaking up, while strong child support enforcement reduces the chances that unmarried parents will marry; local unemployment rates do not appear to be strongly associated with union formation decisions after a nonmarital birth. (Author abstract)

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