New Evidence on the Causes and Consequences of Parental Marriage
(Family and Child Policy)
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
Indeed, in response to these concerns, policymakers have sought to promote marriage among low-income parents as a way to improve child well-being and reduce disparities in child outcomes. In addition, hundreds of policies, at both the state and national level, either explicitly or implicitly incentivize marriage through the provision of tax breaks, medical benefits, and parental rights. And when other societal goals, such as redistribution, lead a policy to instead penalize rather than incentivize marriage, much attention is typically paid to minimizing that penalty.
Whether the gap in marriage between parents of different socioeconomic status exacerbates inequalities and is deserving of policy concern, however, depends on whether marriage actually causes improved child outcomes or merely reflects other advantages. The three papers in this panel will address this, and related, longstanding issue in the literature on family formation. Paper 1 will use a novel instrumental variables approach to examine the causal effect of parental marriage on children’s academic achievement. Paper 2 will investigate the relation between job quality and union formation, including marriage and cohabitation, using the NLSY-97. Finally, paper 3 will use the NLSY-79 to examine linkages between wealth and unintended pregnancies.
Together, the papers on this panel will provide new evidence about the intersection of individual and contextual economic circumstances, and the causes and consequences of marriage and family formation decisions.