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Tuesday, January 9, 2024

Dynamics of Families after Nonmarital Birth

 Dynamics of Families After a Nonmarital Birth

By Angela Rachidi

American Enterprise Institute

January 08, 2024


Despite known links between poverty rates and unmarried parenthood, we know little about how changes in family situations after a nonmarital birth affect poverty. This study explores Future of Families and Child Wellbeing Study data to document changes to the relationship status, employment status, and education level of a cohort of unmarried mothers who gave birth in urban areas in the late 1990s and the implications for poverty rates over a 15-year follow-up period. For children born to unmarried parents in urban areas, official poverty rates improved modestly in the 15 years after the birth, with maternal employment, education gains, and marriage corresponding to lower poverty rates on average over time. Using the success sequence as a framework, poverty rates were dramatically (and statistically) lower when mothers who were unmarried at the time of childbirth subsequently married, worked full-time, and had at least a high school education, suggesting the achievement of success-sequence milestones can lead to lower child poverty even after the birth of a child outside marriage