Family Structure Transition and Early Childhood Development: Evidence from a Population-Based Birth Cohort Study in Taiwan

Jennifer Chun-Li Wu, National Taipei University of Education
Tung-Liang Chiang, National Taiwan University

Taiwan, with a traditional belief in family stability and togetherness, has experienced noteworthy demographic changes that may pose important concerns for the life of children such as increased proportion of children born out-of-wedlock and living with divorced or separated parents. This study aims to examine the relationship and potential pathways between family structure transition and children’s cognitive and socio-emotional development at age 3. Our analysis was based on 19,499 children who completed 6-month, 18-month and 3-year surveys of the Taiwan Birth Cohort Study. Using hierarchical multiple regressions with family selection factors controlled, we found that children living persistently in single-parent families or having ever experienced parent’s divorce/separation did poorer in both developmental outcomes. Living with cohabiting biological parents since birth, however, was found beneficial for socio-emotional development. The disparities in development could be tremendously explained by poverty status, level of family support and quality of the home environment.

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Presented in Poster Session 4