The Presence of Non-Parent Adults and Economic Realities for Children in Low-income Neighborhoods Kate Bachtell, Ph.D. Nola du Toit, Ph.D. Catherine Haggerty .
Background Twenty-five years of extensive and rigorous research has shown that children raised in stable, secure families have a better chance to flourish. Familystructure is an important factor in reducing poverty, too: children raised in single-parent families are nearly five times as likely to be poor as those in married-couple families. In part, this is the result of simple math: two parents, on average, have far greater resources to devote to raising children than does one parent attempting to raise children alone. Aber, L., Butler, S., Danziger, S., Doar, R., Ellwood, D.T., Gueron, J., Haidt, J., Haskins, R., Hymowitz, R., Mincy, R., Reeves, R., Strain, M.R., & Waldfogel, J. (2015). Opportunity, responsibility, and security: A consensus plan for reducing poverty and restoring the American dream. AEI/Brookings Working Group on Poverty and Opportunity. Washington, D.C.: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research and the Brookings Institution.
Insert Presentation Title and Any Confidentiality Information The Problem(s) • For many children, especially the most economically vulnerable, their primary social setting—the household—includes adults other than their parents • Prevailing framing of family “instability” elicits a fictional dichotomy of secure versus insecure families among the poor
Our Contribution • Define household structure based on the relationship of each adult to a focal child • Include non-parent adults such as grandparents, aunts, uncles, unrelated others, etc. • Define instability based on any change in the adult composition of the household
Current Objectives • Quantify the prominence of grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc. in low-income households • Determine whether the presence of these non-parent adults is associated with any benefit or detriment to economic wellbeing • Examine the impact of losing and/or gaining non-parent adults on economic wellbeing
Analytic Sample • Panel of 1,619 households with children that participated in waves 2 and 3 of the Making Connections Survey • Inclusion criteria: • Same focal child selected in both waves • Valid relationship codes • n = 1,212
Dependent Variables • Square root of household income per capita: continuous measure of the household's total income from all sources in the year prior to the wave 3 interview • Economic hardship: 6-point continuous measure indicating how many of the following the household experienced in the past year: (1) did not fill or postponed filling a prescription for drugs; were not able to pay the (2) mortgage, (3) phone, or (4) utility bills; or (5) were without enough money to buy food.
Independent Variables • Focus variables: • Ever had a non-parent present in the household: Dummy variable indicating whether, across two waves, the focal child EVER lived with a non-parent adult (e.g. grandparent, aunt or uncle, other extended relative, unrelated adult, etc.) in the home • Ever had a change in non-parent adult in the household: three dummy variables indicating whether the household experienced a numeric change in the number of non-parent adults living in the home between waves (gained, lost, no change)
Independent Variables • Family Disruption variables: • Ever a change in parents • Moved since prior wave • Controls: • Respondent characteristics: foreign-born, race/ethnicity, sex, age, highest level of education, married, cohabiting • Household characteristics: number of people, number of parents, relationships to the focal child, employment status across all adults
Analysis • Descriptive statistics • OLS regression models • Weighted to represent households with children in MC neighborhoods as of wave 2 (2005-2007)
Current Study: RQ1 R1: What are the characteristics of families that include one or more non-parent adults?
Current Study: RQ2 R2: What impact, if any, does the presence of one or more non-parent adult have on household economic wellbeing?
Current Study: RQ3 R3: What impact, if any, does change in the presence of one or more non-parent adult have on household economic wellbeing?
Recap of Objectives • Quantify the prominence of grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc. in low-income households 38% at one or both waves • Determine whether the presence of these non-parent adults is associated with any benefit or detriment to economic wellbeing No significant impact for income nor hardship • Examine the impact of losing and/or gaining non-parent adults on economic wellbeing • Adding a non-parent=no impact • Losing a non-parent=more HH income per capita • No impact on economic hardship • Economic hardship: results are less conclusive
Insert Presentation Title and Any Confidentiality Information Next Steps • Quantitative: • Use personal identifiers to capture substitutions of adults • Try fixed effects regression? • Qualitative: • Gather additional data?
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