With family

Kevin Lewis

February 10, 2019

Does Parental Quality Matter? Evidence on the Transmission of Human Capital Using Variation in Parental Influence from Death, Divorce, and Family Size
Eric Gould, Avi Simhon & Bruce Weinberg
NBER Working Paper, January 2019


This paper examines the transmission of human capital from parents to children using variation in parental influence due to parental death, divorce, and the increasing specialization of parental roles in larger families. All three sources of variation yield strikingly similar patterns which show that the strong parent-child correlation in human capital is largely causal. In each case, the parent-child correlation in education is stronger with the parent that spends more time with the child, and weaker with the parent that spends relatively less time parenting. These findings help us understand why educated parents spend more time with their children.

Stepfamily Structure and Transfers Between Generations in U.S. Families
Emily Wiemers et al.
Demography, February 2019, Pages 229-260


Unstable couple relationships and high rates of repartnering have increased the share of U.S. families with stepkin. Yet data on stepfamily structure are from earlier periods, include only coresident stepkin, or cover only older adults. In this study, we use new data on family structure and transfers in the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) to describe the prevalence and numbers of stepparents and stepchildren for adults of all ages and to characterize the relationship between having stepkin and transfers of time and money between generations, regardless of whether the kin live together. We find that having stepparents and stepchildren is very common among U.S. households, especially younger households. Furthermore, stepkin substantially increase the typical household's family size; stepparents and stepchildren increase a household's number of parents and adult children by nearly 40 % for married/cohabiting couples with living parents and children. However, having stepkin is associated with fewer transfers, particularly time transfers between married women and their stepparents and stepchildren. The increase in the number of family members due to stepkin is insufficient to compensate for the lower likelihood of transfers in stepfamilies. Our findings suggest that recent cohorts with more stepkin may give less time assistance to adult children and receive less time assistance from children in old age than prior generations.

Fertility Trends in the United States, 1980-2017: The Role of Unintended Births
Kasey Buckles, Melanie Guldi & Lucie Schmidt
NBER Working Paper, January 2019


After roughly 10 years of decline, the U.S. fertility rate reached a historic low in 2017. However, aggregate trends in fertility mask substantial heterogeneity across different demographic groups. Young women and unmarried women have seen the largest declines in fertility in recent years while women older than 30 and married women have actually experienced increases. In this paper, we explore the role of changes in unintended births in explaining fertility patterns in the U.S. from 1980 to 2017, with an emphasis on the fertility decline of the last decade. We begin by documenting heterogeneity in fertility trends across demographic groups, using data from the National Center for Health Statistics' Natality Detail Files. We then use data from the National Survey of Family Growth to describe trends in unintended births and to estimate a model that will identify the maternal characteristics that most strongly predict them. Finally, we use this model to predict the proportion of births in the Natality Detail Files that are unintended. We find that 35% of the decline in fertility between 2007 and 2016 can be explained by declines in births that were likely unintended, and that this is driven by drops in births to young women.

Family Ties? The Limits of Fathering Daughters on Congressional Behavior
Mia Costa et al.
American Politics Research, forthcoming


Scholars have long suggested that familial life can affect political behavior and, more recently, have found that fathering daughters leads men to adopt more liberal positions on gender equality policies. However, few have focused on the impact of fathering a daughter on congressional behavior, particularly in an era of heightened partisan polarization. Using an original data set of familial information, we examine whether fathering a daughter influences male legislators' (a) roll call and cosponsorship support for women's issues in the 110th to 114th Congresses and (b) cosponsorship of bills introduced by female legislators in the 110th Congress. We find that once party affiliation is taken into account, having a daughter neither predicts support for women's issues nor cosponsorship of bills sponsored by women. Our findings suggest there are limits to the direct effects of parenting daughters on men's political behavior, and that scholars should remain attentive to institutional and partisan contexts.

The Timing of Teenage Births: Estimating the Effect on High School Graduation and Later-Life Outcomes
Lisa Schulkind & Danielle Sandler
Demography, February 2019, Pages 345-365


We examine the long-term outcomes for a population of teenage mothers who give birth to their children around the end of high school. We compare the mothers whose high school education was interrupted by childbirth (because the child was born before her expected graduation date) with mothers who did not experience the same disruption to their education. We find that mothers who gave birth during the school year are 5.4 percentage points less likely to complete their high school education, are less likely to be married, and have more children than their counterparts who gave birth just a few months later. The wages for these two sets of teenage mothers are not statistically different, but with a lower likelihood of marriage and more children, the households of the treated mothers are more likely to fall below the poverty threshold. Although differences in educational attainment have narrowed over time, the differences in labor market outcomes and family structure have remained stable.

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