Does marriage strengthen family ties? : the analysis of the effect of parental marriage on out-of-wedlock children's home environment and academic success

Naoko Akashi, California State University, Fullerton

The unwed birthrate escalated drastically from an almost negligible rate to more than one third of all births in the last half century. I examine whether a parental marriage improves the home environment quality and academic performance of out-of-wedlock children. In order to understand the roles of parental marriage and cohabitation for out-of-wedlock children, I sample out-of-wedlock children in the National Longitudinal Survey for Children 1979 and analyze the effects of their mothers’ marital status changes on their academic performance and home environment quality. Whereas those whose parents eventually marry have better academic outcomes and home environment quality than those whose parents stay cohabitating, this gap cannot be attributed to the parents’ marital statuses. Contrarily, the advantage of children whose parents cohabitate compared to those who do not live with their biological fathers can be largely attributed to the involvement of the biological fathers in raising their children.

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Presented in Session 77: Children's Well-Being and Household Characteristics