Poverty Status and the Effects of Family Structure on Child Well-Being

Susan L. Brown

in The Oxford Handbook of Poverty and Child Development

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780199769100
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

Poverty Status and the Effects of Family Structure on Child Well-Being

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Children's living arrangements are increasingly diverse and unstable. Growing proportions of children are born to single or cohabiting mothers. The proportion of children born to married parents continues to decline. Family structure at birth sets the stage for living arrangement transitions during childhood, with children born outside of marriage experiencing more instability, on average, than their counterparts born to married parents. Children's family structure and instability have important consequences for their well-being. The goal of this chapter is to address how the relationship between family structure and child outcomes varies by poverty status. Although child poverty is rather high and has actually increased in recent years, the family structure literature has largely overlooked the potential moderating effect of poverty, and instead has emphasized the mediating influence of economic resources more generally. I summarize recent patterns and trends in child poverty and family structure and then turn to an assessment of the theoretical and empirical contributions in the literature. I conclude with suggestions for future research.

Keywords: children; families; marriage; poverty; well-being

Article.  10038 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Developmental Psychology

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