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Family Complexity among Children in the United States

Family Complexity among Children in the United States Researchers largely have relied on a measure of family structure to describe children’s living arrangements, but this approach captures only the child’s relationship to the parent(s), ignoring the presence and composition of siblings. We develop a measure of family complexity that merges family structure and sibling composition to distinguish between simple two-biological-parent families, families with complex-sibling (half or stepsiblings) arrangements, and complex-parent (stepparent, single-parent) families. Using the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP), we provide a descriptive profile of changes in children’s living arrangements over a 13-year span (1996–2009). SIPP sample sizes are sufficiently large to permit an evaluation of changes in the distribution of children in various (married, cohabiting, and single-parent) simple and complex families according to race/ethnicity and parental education. The article concludes by showing that we have reached a plateau in family complexity and that complexity is concentrated among the most disadvantaged families. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science SAGE

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References (43)

Publisher
SAGE
Copyright
© 2014 by The American Academy of Political and Social Science
ISSN
0002-7162
eISSN
1552-3349
DOI
10.1177/0002716214524515
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Researchers largely have relied on a measure of family structure to describe children’s living arrangements, but this approach captures only the child’s relationship to the parent(s), ignoring the presence and composition of siblings. We develop a measure of family complexity that merges family structure and sibling composition to distinguish between simple two-biological-parent families, families with complex-sibling (half or stepsiblings) arrangements, and complex-parent (stepparent, single-parent) families. Using the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP), we provide a descriptive profile of changes in children’s living arrangements over a 13-year span (1996–2009). SIPP sample sizes are sufficiently large to permit an evaluation of changes in the distribution of children in various (married, cohabiting, and single-parent) simple and complex families according to race/ethnicity and parental education. The article concludes by showing that we have reached a plateau in family complexity and that complexity is concentrated among the most disadvantaged families.

Journal

The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social ScienceSAGE

Published: Jul 1, 2014

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