Family Stability, Fatherís Financial Contributions, and Childhood Outcomes
(Family and Child Policy)
Monday, June 13, 2016: 11:30 AM-1:00 PM
Clement House, 3rd Floor, Room 07 (London School of Economics)
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
Discussant: Ronald B. Mincy, Columbia University
Family income and family stability are closely connected to child development, yet these variables have experienced divergent trends in recent decades. In the U.S. men still provide a large share of the family income in one and two-parent families, but because menís earnings have stagnated over the past 40 years, income in many American families remains low. Prior studies suggest that low levels of permanent income are associated with increased behavior problems and difficulties in childrenís cognitive development, especially among young children. Partly as a result of stagnant menís earnings, family structure has undergone rapid change. Cohabitation has firmly established itself alongside marriage and single motherhood as a living arrangement for children. But the more rapid rate of union dissolution among cohabiting, as compared with married, parents in the U.S. very likely affects family functioning in ways that prior studies have found are harmful for children. As a result, U.S. policymakers have considered legislation to increase the proportion of American children growing up with mothers and (less frequently) fathers who have effective parenting skills and the proportion of children growing up in stable two-parent families. Policymakers also continue to consider reforms intended to ďmake work payĒ for mothers and fathers, including: higher minimum wages and earned Income credits and more aggressive and effective enforcement of child support obligations. The three papers in this panel use data from a large, longitudinal birth-cohort survey to investigate: (1) how and why financial support from the resident and (2) nonresident fathers influence childrenís skills long-term; and (3) how family instability is associated with child behavior? These papers add to the literature by exploring the mechanisms by which fatherís financial support and family stability are associated with childrenís development and considering the long reach of fathersí financial support and family instability during early childhood on childrenís academic and behavioral skills.