Monday, April 10, 2017
From Naomi Cahn (George Washington Law), writing for the Institute for Family Studies:
We know that nonmarital mothers today are more likely to give birth in a cohabiting union than on their own. But what do we know about those unions and the reasons that women become pregnant? Professor Jennifer Barber of the University of Michigan gives us some new answers through the Relationship Dynamics and Social Life (RDSL) study at the University of Michigan. Her study sheds a novel light on family formation among unmarried couples—and potentially on the legal and policy debates that underlie these issues.
Professor Barber’s work builds on the well-known Fragile Families and Child-Wellbeing Study, which followed almost 5,000 children born between 1998 and 2000 in large U.S. cities; approximately three-quarters of their parents were unmarried. The Fragile Families research dramatically changed our images of unmarried families. The groundbreaking study showed that contrary to the popular assumptions of the time, the majority of unmarried mothers were in relationships with the fathers of their children at the time of the birth, and the majority of the fathers remained involved with their children for at least a period of time after a break-up with the mother.
This new research from the RDSL provides even more—and very different— information about unmarried mothers. Instead of starting once the children are born, it follows young women before they become pregnant and often before they have entered the relationships that produce the pregnancies. It also includes both women who became pregnant and those who did not, providing a robust basis for comparisons between the two groups.
Read more here.