Panel Paper: The Changing Nature and Consequences for Children of Growing Up in a Lone-Parent Family

Saturday, November 9, 2013 : 3:50 PM
DuPont (Westin Georgetown)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Susan Harkness, Paul Gregg and Marina Fernandez Salgado, University of Bath
There is little empirical evidence on how the nature of lone-parenthood has changed over recent decades. Nor is there any evidence on how the growth in lone-parenthood, to the extent that in the UK it is now a social norm, may have influenced the consequences of growing up in a lone-parent family for children. There is also surprising little evidence on the extent to which the relationship between lone-parenthood and poor outcomes for children is causal rather than selective, or on the diversity of experience of children growing up in lone parent families.  This study aims to fill this substantial gap in the literature using data from three major UK birth cohort studies that follow a large sample of children born in the years 1958, 1970 and 2000. These studies contain very detailed information on these children and the families they live in, as well as information on their outcomes as adults.  This data therefore allows us to track the experience of children who have lived in a lone-parent family over a long period of time.  

Using information on the relationship histories of the parent’s of the children this paper analyses how routes into lone parenthood have changed since 1958, and at the subsequent experience of children as parents re-partner. We are particularly interested in partnership histories – including the age of children at separation, parental marital status, duration of relationship, and re-partnering behavior. Using this information we develop a series of “typologies” of lone parenthood. Across these groupings we then compare the implications of different types of experience of lone parenthood for children’s outcomes at different ages, and for the social and economic outcomes of these children on becoming adults.