Complex Families and Implications for Parents' Support of Their Children

Maria M. Cancian, University of Wisconsin at Madison
Daniel Meyer, University of Wisconsin at Madison

Recent research suggests the importance for both demographers and policy analysts of considering patterns of multiple partner fertility. Many of the early insights have come from ethnographic research. Quantitative research on complex families is difficult given data limitations (including inherent problems with sample definitions given complex family structures). We use data derived from statewide administrative records of welfare recipients to map the multiple obligations and sources of support available to mothers and fathers of low income families in Wisconsin. Using these data, as well as survey reports of family structure and informal support, we gain a better understanding of the implications for parents who have children with multiple partners and who are simultaneously custodial and noncustodial parents and/or step-parents. We discuss implications for theories of the family that emphasize social or biological ties, as well as implications for current policy initiatives related to marriage promotion and child support

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Presented in Session 90: Fathers and Families