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The SSRC Library allows visitors to access materials related to self-sufficiency programs, practice and research. Visitors can view common search terms, conduct a keyword search or create a custom search using any combination of the filters at the left side of this page. To conduct a keyword search, type a term or combination of terms into the search box below, select whether you want to search the exact phrase or the words in any order, and click on the blue button to the right of the search box to view relevant results.

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  • Individual Author: Cancian, Maria; Reed, Deborah
    Reference Type: Journal Article
    Year: 2000

    Major income support policies in the United States are explicitly tied to family structure—the prototypical example is Aid to Families with ;dependent Children (AFDC), which was largely limited to single-parent families. But marriage, childbearing, family living arrangements, and work patterns have changed, and so too have public perceptions of gender roles, parental responsibility, and the family. Income support policy embodies these profound shifts. For example, the 1996 welfare reforms that replaced AFDC with Temporary Aid for Needy Families reflect growing acceptance that mothers should work, even mothers with very young children. In this article we examine the changes in family structure over the last 30 years. We document the decline in marriage and rise in divorce, and examine the trends behind the increasing proportion of children born outside of marriage. The growth in cohabitation among unmarried couples is an important part of the story, as is the changing relationship between women’s labor force participation and their marital and maternal status. We briefly examine...

    Major income support policies in the United States are explicitly tied to family structure—the prototypical example is Aid to Families with ;dependent Children (AFDC), which was largely limited to single-parent families. But marriage, childbearing, family living arrangements, and work patterns have changed, and so too have public perceptions of gender roles, parental responsibility, and the family. Income support policy embodies these profound shifts. For example, the 1996 welfare reforms that replaced AFDC with Temporary Aid for Needy Families reflect growing acceptance that mothers should work, even mothers with very young children. In this article we examine the changes in family structure over the last 30 years. We document the decline in marriage and rise in divorce, and examine the trends behind the increasing proportion of children born outside of marriage. The growth in cohabitation among unmarried couples is an important part of the story, as is the changing relationship between women’s labor force participation and their marital and maternal status. We briefly examine how these changes have affected poverty and poverty policy in the United States. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Lerman, Robert I.
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2002

    This paper brings together a body of empirical evidence on how marriage affects the economic well-being of families with children. The paper considers the theoretical reasons marriage might enhance economic well-being, clarifies the empirical questions about the potential roles of marriage, and presents descriptive data and the evidence from empirical studies. The review deals with the impact of higher marriage propensities on incomes and wealth, of gains in marriage relative to cohabitation, of the stimulus to male earnings associated with marriage, and of the changes in economic well-being associated with entry into marriage, divorce, remarriage, and parenthood. (author abstract)

    This paper brings together a body of empirical evidence on how marriage affects the economic well-being of families with children. The paper considers the theoretical reasons marriage might enhance economic well-being, clarifies the empirical questions about the potential roles of marriage, and presents descriptive data and the evidence from empirical studies. The review deals with the impact of higher marriage propensities on incomes and wealth, of gains in marriage relative to cohabitation, of the stimulus to male earnings associated with marriage, and of the changes in economic well-being associated with entry into marriage, divorce, remarriage, and parenthood. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Fein, David J.; Burstein, Nancy R.; Fein, Greta G.; Lindberg, Laura D.
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2003

    Basic research covers a wide range of demographic, economic, socio-cultural, and psychological influences, including both dynamic (changing) and static (stable) factors. In this review, we emphasize dynamic factors because they are the most likely targets of policies. We recognize that static factors can play an important role in conditioning the influence of dynamic factors and note these effects where they seem important. As our assignment was limited to basic research, we do not cover studies of the effects of policies and programs on unions.

    Here we summarize the main findings and unanswered questions for each of our ten major influences on marriage and cohabitation. The first three influences are demographic processes: early and non-marital childbearing, transitions to marital parenthood, and non-marital cohabitation. These processes establish a framework for reviewing economic, socio-cultural, and psychological explanations. Under the economic heading, we examine the effects of changes in the fortunes of women and men, respectively. Two key socio-cultural influences...

    Basic research covers a wide range of demographic, economic, socio-cultural, and psychological influences, including both dynamic (changing) and static (stable) factors. In this review, we emphasize dynamic factors because they are the most likely targets of policies. We recognize that static factors can play an important role in conditioning the influence of dynamic factors and note these effects where they seem important. As our assignment was limited to basic research, we do not cover studies of the effects of policies and programs on unions.

    Here we summarize the main findings and unanswered questions for each of our ten major influences on marriage and cohabitation. The first three influences are demographic processes: early and non-marital childbearing, transitions to marital parenthood, and non-marital cohabitation. These processes establish a framework for reviewing economic, socio-cultural, and psychological explanations. Under the economic heading, we examine the effects of changes in the fortunes of women and men, respectively. Two key socio-cultural influences are the changing social significance of marriage and cohabitation and varying gender role expectations within relationships. Three final influences cover psychological aspects of couple interaction and their connections to personal characteristics and wider social and economic contexts. (author abstract)

    For more information on the data sources for this study please see Guide to data sources on the determinants of marriage and cohabitation.

  • Individual Author: Dion, M. Robin; Devaney, Barbara; McConnell, Sheena; Ford, Melissa; Hill, Heather; Winston, Pamela
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2003

    Although there are exceptions, research indicates that children raised in single-parent families are at greater risk of living in poverty and of developing social, behavioral and academic problems than are children raised in married-parent families. This report presents a framework for intervention that would address the needs and circumstances of unmarried parents and provide instruction and knowledge for those who would choose to form and sustain healthy marriages. Head Start and Early Head Start staff can help develop programs that will assist couples in strengthening their bond while supporting the developmental needs of their child. (author abstract)

    Although there are exceptions, research indicates that children raised in single-parent families are at greater risk of living in poverty and of developing social, behavioral and academic problems than are children raised in married-parent families. This report presents a framework for intervention that would address the needs and circumstances of unmarried parents and provide instruction and knowledge for those who would choose to form and sustain healthy marriages. Head Start and Early Head Start staff can help develop programs that will assist couples in strengthening their bond while supporting the developmental needs of their child. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Fein, David J.
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2004

    The prisms social scientists have used to study marriage mostly have not been focused on the lower end of the economic spectrum. There has been considerable attention to racial and ethnic minorities and, more recently, to relationships among unwed parents. Although these populations are disproportionately poor, their distinctive attitudes and behaviors could reflect many influences other than economic status. Many analyses of marriage outcomes in the general population have included economic indicators as covariates. Very few, however, have examined carefully the effects of economic or other causal variables among the most disadvantaged sample members (Fein, 2003; Fein et al., 2003).

    Emerging federal initiatives seeking to support marriage have increased the need for improved information on low-income married couples. These needs begin with basic descriptive statistics. Research on fragile families has demonstrated that simple facts can be very useful in stimulating thinking about interventions for couples. For example, the finding that a substantial majority of unwed...

    The prisms social scientists have used to study marriage mostly have not been focused on the lower end of the economic spectrum. There has been considerable attention to racial and ethnic minorities and, more recently, to relationships among unwed parents. Although these populations are disproportionately poor, their distinctive attitudes and behaviors could reflect many influences other than economic status. Many analyses of marriage outcomes in the general population have included economic indicators as covariates. Very few, however, have examined carefully the effects of economic or other causal variables among the most disadvantaged sample members (Fein, 2003; Fein et al., 2003).

    Emerging federal initiatives seeking to support marriage have increased the need for improved information on low-income married couples. These needs begin with basic descriptive statistics. Research on fragile families has demonstrated that simple facts can be very useful in stimulating thinking about interventions for couples. For example, the finding that a substantial majority of unwed couples are involved romantically around the time of birth but most of these relationships do not survive long after birth has stimulated interest in transition to parenthood programs (Dion et al., 2003). A similar body of descriptive evidence on low-income married couples is needed to support thinking about the broad population of interest, subgroups that might be particularly important to target, and the kinds of services and policy changes that may be most helpful.

    One key need is to document the degree to which marriage outcomes vary across different forms and levels of economic disadvantage. Next, we must ascertain how different individual, family, and environmental characteristics of disadvantaged couples are associated with marriage outcomes. Beyond simple measures like marital satisfaction, it will be useful to assess how more specific aspects of marital interaction and related psychological processes — the proximate targets of relationship skills programs — vary across groups. Needed are analyses both of variation in outcomes at a point in time, as well as of changes in outcomes for a population over time.

    This paper starts the enterprise by assembling and assessing recent descriptive statistics on the formation and stability, characteristics, and quality of marriages in the low-income population of the U.S. In addition to culling findings from published reports, it also provides new findings from several recent surveys. (author abstract)

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