Journal of Marriage & the Family
Volume 58, Issue 4, November 1996, Pages 998-1010
ISSN: 0022-2445 (Print )
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Parental cohabitation and children's economic well-being

Manning, Wendy D. a; Lichter, Daniel T.

a Bowling Green State U, Dept of Sociology, Bowling Green, OH, US


The rise in children's experience in single-parent families is well documented. However, it remains unknown whether their unmarried parents are living alone or coresiding with unmarried partners. Perhaps more importantly, it is unknown how the economic contributions of parent's cohabiting partners influence the economic well-being of children. Using data from the recently released 1990 decennial census PUMS, the authors provide national estimates of the percentage and socioeconomic characteristics of US children living in cohabiting-couple families. Results reveal that 2.2 million children (3.5%) reside in cohabiting-couple families and that racial differences are substantial. Roughly 1 in 7 children in unmarried-parent families also live with their parent's unmarried partner. Although these children have 2 potential caretakers and economic providers, results indicate that parental resources fall short of their counterparts in married-couple families. A cohabiting partner's economic contribution results in a 29% reduction in the proportion of children in cohabiting-couple families living in poverty, but still they fare poorly in comparison with children in married-couple families. [Peer Reviewed Journal; In English; Print]

Key Concepts: use of census data to determine percentage & socioeconomic characteristics of children living in cohabiting-couple families, children & their parents, conference presentation

Descriptors: * Cohabitation; * Couples; * Family Socioeconomic Level; * Parental Characteristics

Classification Codes: [2950] Marriage & Family

Population: [10] Human; [30] Male; [40] Female; [100] Childhood (birth-12 yrs); [200] Adolescence (13-17 yrs); [300] Adulthood (18 yrs & older)

Geographical Location: US

Form/Content Type: [0600] Conference Proceedings/Symposia; [0800] Empirical Study

Conference Information: Annual meeting of the American Sociological Association. 1994, Los Angeles, CA

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