We use data from a new longitudinal survey – the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study – to examine how welfare and child support policies, and local labor market conditions, affect union formation among unmarried parents who have just had a child together. We use multinomial logistic regression to estimate the effects of the policy variables along with economic, cultural/interpersonal, and other factors on whether (relative to being in a cohabiting relationship) parents are not romantically involved, romantically involved living apart, or married to each other about one year after the child's birth. We find that – contrary to some previous research – higher welfare benefits discourage couples from breaking up, while strong child support enforcement reduces the chances that unmarried parents will marry; local unemployment rates do not appear to be strongly associated with union formation decisions after a nonmarital birth.
Population Research and Policy Review – Springer Journals
Published: Jan 5, 2004
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