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Parental Cohabitation and Children's Economic Well-Being.

Publication Year: 
Personal Author: 
Manning, Wendy D.
Lichter, Daniel T.
Journal Article
Page Count: 

The rise in children's experience in single-parent families is well documented. However, it remains unknown whether their unmarried parents are living alone or coresiding with unmarried partners. Perhaps more importantly, it is unknown how the economic contributions of parent's cohabiting partners influence the economic well-being of children. Using data from the recently released 1990 decennial census PUMS, the authors provide national estimates of the percentage and socioeconomic characteristics of U.S. children living in cohabiting-couple families. Their results reveal that 2.2 million children (3.5%) reside in cohabiting-couple families and that racial differences are substantial. Roughly 1 in 7 children in unmarried-parent families also live with their parent's unmarried partner. Although these children have two potential caretakers and economic providers, the results indicate that parental resources fall short of their counterparts in married-couple families. A cohabiting partner's economic contribution results in a 29% reduction in the proportion of children in cohabiting-couple families living in poverty, but still they fare poorly in comparison with children in married-couple families. (Author abstract)

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