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Family Structure, Private Transfers, and the Economic Well-Being of Families with Children

Lingxin Hao
Social Forces
Vol. 75, No. 1 (Sep., 1996), pp. 269-292
Published by: Oxford University Press
DOI: 10.2307/2580765
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2580765
Page Count: 24
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Family Structure, Private Transfers, and the Economic Well-Being of Families with Children
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Abstract

This study examines the relationship between family structure, private transfers, and the economic well-being of families with children under 18. We use family wealth as a measure of economic well-being to mitigate some of the criticisms of traditional measures based on income. We examine family structure beyond marital status to include remarriage, cohabitation, and the gender of single parenthood. We focus on financial transfers from both kin and nonkin. After analyzing the distribution of family wealth and transfers by family structure, we estimate the effects of family structure, transfers, and their interaction on family wealth. Drawing on data from the National Survey of Families and Households (1987-88), we find that (1) family net wealth and total private transfers vary with family structure along three lines, marriage-remarriage, marriage-cohabitation, and male-female single parenthood; (2) marriage is a wealth-enhancing institution; (3) private transfers promote family net wealth; and (4) marriage reinforces the promoting effect of private transfers on family wealth.

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