Family Structure and Child Well-Being: Examining the Role of Parental Social Networks

Rachel Dunifon, Cornell University
Lori Kowaleski-Jones, University of Utah

Using longitudinal data from the NLSY79, this paper examines whether parental social support helps to reduce the negative impact of single-parenthood on children. Two measures of social support are used: how often a family spends time with friends or relatives, and whether a child's grandparent is living in the household. Our analyses focus on two important sub-groups of children: African-Americans and families receiving public assistance. African-Americans are an important sub-group because of the higher prevalence of single-parenthood in African-American families, and because our previous work found significant race differences in the influence of single-parenthood on children. Families receiving public assistance are examined because they are the target of public policies aimed at increasing marriage. Results suggest that the presence of grandparents in the home helps buffer the negative associations between single-parenthood and child delinquency.

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Presented in Session 78: Family Structure and Child Outcomes