Children's well-being and varying degrees of family instability

Sep 29, 2010

A forthcoming issue of the Journal of Marriage and Family states that children today are less likely to be born into a "traditional" family structure, defined as two biological married parents. Growing numbers of children in the United States experience multiple family living arrangements during childhood. How these transitions affect the individual child's well-being needs to be fully addressed by researchers and policymakers alike. This article fully reviews the existing research from the past ten years on these topics in an effort to guide and inform current policy debates about the role of marriage in reducing poverty and improving child outcomes.

Author Susan L. Brown observed that, "Family instability appears to negatively affect a child's well-being in the short- and long-term. But researchers are still exploring why family instability can be detrimental. Is it because of the number of transitions experience, the types of transitions, duration of time spent in diverse family environments, or some other factors?"

In her article Brown devotes special attention to new scholarship on unmarried, primarily low-income families, also the target of recent federal initiatives, such as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children & Families Healthy Marriage Initiative. Brown noted that, "Child well-being is of critical importance. What is clear is that living arrangements for children are increasingly varied and complex, and family instability is typically not good for children. Children's family trajectories depend in part on their at birth, as children born to unmarried mothers tend to experience greater family instability during childhood than do children born to married parents."

Moreover, Brown asserts that children born to unmarried parents are unlikely to experience parental marriage, and parental marriage does not necessarily improve child well-being for those born to unmarried mothers. She points out that according to the research these more subtle factors may have modest but enduring consequences for the child in the long-term. Brown concluded, "Marriage is not a panacea. It is possible that the negative outcomes are not due to family structure or instability, but rather other unmeasured characteristics of the parents."

Explore further: Physicists create tool to foresee language destruction impact and thus prevent it

More information: "Marriage and Child Well-Being: Research and Policy Perspectives." Susan Brown. Journal of Marriage and Family; Published Online: September 29, 2010 DOI:10.1111/j.1741-3737.2010.00750.x

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Children's sex affects parents' marital status

May 23, 2006

Parents with a boy and a girl are more likely to stay married, or get married if they were unmarried when their children were born, than those with two boys or two girls according to new research from ANU economist Dr Andrew ...

When Mom Dates, Dad Stops Visiting His Kids

Aug 03, 2009

New research from the Journal of Marriage and Family shows that children born outside of marriage are less likely to be visited by their father when the mother is involved in a new romantic relationship. Many children born out ...

Recommended for you

Affirmative action elicits bias in pro-equality Caucasians

8 hours ago

New research from Simon Fraser University's Beedie School of Business indicates that bias towards the effects of affirmative action exists in not only people opposed to it, but also in those who strongly endorse equality.

Election surprises tend to erode trust in government

Jul 24, 2014

When asked who is going to win an election, people tend to predict their own candidate will come out on top. When that doesn't happen, according to a new study from the University of Georgia, these "surprised losers" often ...

Awarded a Pell Grant? Better double-check

Jul 23, 2014

(AP)—Potentially tens of thousands of students awarded a Pell Grant or other need-based federal aid for the coming school year could find it taken away because of a mistake in filling out the form.

User comments : 0