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Children's Experience in Single-Parent Families: Implications of Cohabitation and Marital Transitions

Larry L. Bumpass and James A. Sweet
Family Planning Perspectives
Vol. 21, No. 6 (Nov. - Dec., 1989), pp. 256-260
Published by: Guttmacher Institute
DOI: 10.2307/2135378
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2135378
Page Count: 5
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Children's Experience in Single-Parent Families: Implications of Cohabitation and Marital Transitions
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Abstract

Data from the National Survey of Families and Households indicate that 10 percent of children born between 1960 and 1968 were born outside of marriage and that before age 16, another 19 percent experienced the dissolution of their parents' marriage. When parental death and other causes of family disruption are also considered, 36 percent of the children in that age cohort had been separated from at least one parent before they reached age 16, compared with 22 percent of children born two decades earlier. In all, 27 percent of nonmarital births between 1970 and 1984 were to cohabiting couples; the proportion was 40 percent for Mexican Americans, 29 percent for non-Hispanic whites and 18 percent for blacks. About two-thirds of cohabiting couples who had children during the 1970s eventually married; however, before these children reach age 16, 56 percent of them are likely to experience the disruption of their parents' marriage, in comparison with 31 percent of children born to married parents. Overall, about half of all children born between 1970 and 1984 are likely to spend some time in a mother-only family, and more than half of these children reach age 16 without having had a stepfather.

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