Child Development
Volume 73, Issue 4, July - August 2002, Pages 1249-1264
ISSN: 0009-3920

Who's in the house? Race differences in cohabitation, single parenthood, and child development

Dunifon, Rachel; Kowaleski-Jones, Lori

Department of Policy Analysis and Management, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA; e-mail



This study examined four questions: (1) How does family structure (specifically, single parenthood, married parent, and cohabitating parent) affect children's delinquency and math test scores? (2) Do these effects differ by race? (3) Do parenting practices mediate the links between family structure and children's outcomes? and (4) Does this mediation differ by race? Unlike some previous work in this area, the present study distinguished between the effects of single parenthood and cohabitation. Using fixed-effects techniques to control for unobserved heterogeneity between children in the various family structures, single parenthood was found to be associated with reduced well-being among European American children, but not African American children. Cohabitation was associated with greater delinquency among African American children, and lower math scores among European American children. No evidence was found to indicate that parenting mediated the links between family structure and children's outcomes. Finally, it was found that for African American children, measures of maternal warmth and the provision of rules had direct effects on children's delinquency. [Journal Article; In English; United States]

Citation Subset Indicators: Index Medicus

Grant Information: Grant ID: F32 HD08627-01, Acronym: HD, Agency: NICHD

MeSH Terms:


Blacks, * psychology (PX);


* Educational Status;

Ethnic Groups, * psychology (PX);



Juvenile Delinquency, * psychology (PX);


Mother-Child Relations;

Parenting, psychology (PX);

Risk Factors;

Single Parent, * psychology (PX);

* Social Environment;

Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.;

Whites, * psychology (PX)

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