Demography of Family, Household, and Individual Well-Being

Inequalities in Marriage and Family Dynamics. Marriage is associated with a wide variety of outcomes, including fertility rates, child welfare, labor force participation, and income inequality. Yet, marriage benefits and costs are unequally distributed. Megan Sweeney (Soc) shows that marriage remains in a transition period and that race-based gaps in marriage persist throughout the educational distribution (e.g., higher marriage anddivorce rates in the White than the Black population at all educational levels) but are largest among the least educated. Using novel heterogeneous treatment effect models which she helped pioneer, Jennie Brand (Soc), with CCPR External Affiliate Ravaris Moore (Loyola Marymount University), finds that children in higher income families—who are less likely to experience parental divorce—have lower educational attainment if their parents divorce. They find no impact of parental divorce on the education of disadvantaged children—who are more likely to experience parental divorce. Teresa Seeman (Med / Epi), Julie Bower (Psych), and CCPR Affiliate Andrew Fuligni (Psych) study the impact of stress, interpersonal relationships, and their associations with biological markers of health, revealing processes underlying the complex implications of family dissolution on child well-being.


Families and Households in Low-Income Settings. CCPR researchers study families and children in low-income and vulnerable situations. Adriana Lleras-Muney (Econ) examines the effects of cash transfers to low-income families on the outcomes of mothers and children throughout their lifetime. She shows that transfers result in higher education and earnings, particularly among boys, and extends their longevity. Till von Wachter(Econ) identifies pathways into homelessness among low-income families. Benjamin Karney (Psych) examines marital dynamics in low-income communities and the military, showing how stress constrains partners’ ability to maintain their relationships. Michael Lens (Urb Plan) documents the prevalence and demographic and family characteristics of extremely low-income households, particularly following the Great Recession. Todd Franke (Soc Wel) works with governmental and private agencies to identify and prevent child abuse and maltreatment. He also studies the impact of disability and chronic illness on children. CCPR affiliates also study family and household dynamics in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC). Patrick Heuveline (Soc) has directed the Mekong Integrated Population Registration Areas of Cambodia and the Mekong Island Population Laboratory for the last 20 years, which combine health and demographic surveillance and survey data on contemporary and historical Cambodian demography. With NICHD support and a collaboration with former CCPR post-doc Savet Hong, he has studied one-parent families and the educational outcomes of children growing up in them. He is currently investigating changes in family formation, e.g., the transition away from arranged marriages and dissolution. Natalie Bau (Econ) studies how parents’ need for old-age support in low-income countries affects their educational investments in their children and their children’s migration decisions. She finds that parents invest more in children’s education who they expect to take care of them in old age.


Intergenerational Family Decision-Making and Exchange. Increasing household and family diversity and population aging have reshaped family decision-making and exchange. Kathleen McGarry (Econ) studies how public and private transfers affect the well-being of the elderly and the functioning of insurance markets catering to the elderly population. She shows that increases in Social Security allow elderly widows to live independently. Older adults who worry about the burden on their family of providing care are more likely than others to have long-term care insurance. This enables the middle generation to invest in their young adult children. Randall Kuhn (CHS) leads the Matlab Health and Socioeconomic Survey Wave 2 (MHSS2) in Bangladesh. Funded by an NIA R01 grant with NICHD/PDB support for data archiving, this survey of 32,000 respondents is the second wave of a 40 year-long longitudinal study focusing on changing family structure and marriage patterns, intergenerational transfers, child health, women’s status, and migration. Judith Seltzer (Soc) shows the importance of broad family networks and family complexity for access to potential caregivers (e.g., grandchildren and older parents) and other support across the life course. Using data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) family roster module, which Seltzer helped design, Seltzer and CCPR External Affiliate Jenjira Yahirun (Bowling Green State University) find that weaker ties between stepparents and children than between biological parents may extend to grandparent-grandchild ties, reducing the potential for grandparents to provide a safety-net for vulnerable families. Challenging the view that ties are universally stronger in traditional families than in complex ones, Seltzer finds that adult children and parents spend less time together in complex families, but not when the spouse/partners have at least one biological child together.