Nonmarital Childbearing and Socioeconomic Trajectories for Men and Women

Alicia VanOrman, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Marcia J. Carlson, University of Wisconsin-Madison

As the proportion of nonmartial births continues to rise, understanding how nonmarital parenthood fits into the life course is increasingly important. Early research on women links unwed motherhood to a range of adverse economic outcomes, but far less is known about how unmarried fatherhood impacts men’s long-term socioeconomic trajectories. Due to these gaps, it is unclear how unmarried fatherhood alters men’s life course and if unmarried parenthood impacts men’s lives differently than women’s. Using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 cohort, we use a propensity score matching model, and latent growth curve techniques to show the extent to which potentially adverse outcomes occur in response to nonmarital parenthood, and how the effects vary by gender and race/ethnicity. This study will extend prior research by providing more detailed information about the varying effects of having a child outside of marriage on contemporary men’s and women’s socioeconomic trajectories.

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Presented in Session 134: Non-Marital and Diverse Family Forms