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September 2010, Vol. 133, No. 9
Household expenditures on children, 2007–08
Megumi Omori is an associate professor in the Department of Sociology, Social Work, and Criminal Justice, Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania, Bloomsburg, PA. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Regression results suggest that household income and parental education are the main factors influencing expenditures on children’s education, entertainment, and books; that children in single-parent or cohabiting households are disadvantaged is thus due mainly to the lower income and education levels of these households, not their marital status.
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An increasing number of children living in nontraditional families has led researchers to study these children and their families. In 2004, two-thirds of children were living with married parents; about a quarter of children were living in a one-parent household, the majority with their mother; and the rest were living in other types of households.1 Numerous studies show that children in single-parent households, especially mother-only households, are disadvantaged, compared with children in two-parent households.2 These studies find that children from one-parent households are significantly less likely to complete their high school education3 and significantly more likely to obtain lower grades4 than their counterparts in two-parent households. Also, children in single-parent households are deprived economically and socially5 and show more problem behaviors than children in two-parent households.6 Differences in children’s well-being between two-parent and single-parent households are often attributed to differences in household income.7 The economic disadvantage of single households is clearly seen in the following statistics: in 2006, the median income for married-couple households was $69,716, while that for single-father and single-mother households was $47,078 and $31,818, respectively. Moreover, less than 5 percent of married-couple households were below the poverty level, whereas the percentages were 13.2 percent for single-father households and 28.2 percent for single-mother households.8
This excerpt is from an article published in the September 2010 issue of the Monthly Labor Review. The full text of the article is available in Adobe Acrobat's Portable Document Format (PDF). See How to view a PDF file for more information.
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1 Rose M. Kreider, Living Arrangements of Children: 2004, Current Population Reports (U.S. Census Bureau, 2007), pp. 70–114.
2 See Sara S. McLanahan and Gary D. Sandefur, Growing Up with a Single Parent (Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press, 1994); Elizabeth Thomson, Thomas L. Hanson, and Sara S. McLanahan, "Family Structure and Child Well-being: Economic Resources vs. Parental Behavior," Social Forces, September 1994, pp. 221–42; William S. Aquilino, "The Life Course of Children Born to Unmarried mothers: Childhood Living Arrangements and Young Adult Outcomes," Journal of Marriage and Family, May 1996, pp. 293–310; John P. Hoffmann, "Family Structure, Community Context, and Adolescent Problem Behaviors," Journal of Youth Adolescence, November 2006, pp. 867–80; and Ming Wen, "Family Structure and Children’s Health and Behavior: Data from the 1999 National Survey of America’s Families," Journal of Family Issues, November 2008, 1492–1519.
3 Aquilino, "The Life Course of Children Born to Unmarried Mothers."
4 See Douglas B. Downey, "The School Performance of Children from Single-Mother and Single-Father families: Economic or Interpersonal Deprivation?" Journal of Family Issues, March 1994, pp. 129–47; and Thomson, Hanson, and McLanahan, "Family Structure and Child Well-being."
5 Downey, "The School Performance of Children"; and McLanahan and Sandefur, Growing Up with a Single Parent.
6 See Wendy D. Manning and Kathleen A. Lamb, "Adolescent Well-being in Cohabiting, Married, and Single-Parent Families," Journal of Marriage and the Family, November 2003, pp. 876–93; Hoffmann, "Family Structure"; and Wen, "Family Structure and Children’s Health and Behavior."
7 See Thomson, Hanson, and McLanahan, "Family Structure and Child Well-being"; McLanahan and Sandefur, Growing Up with a Single Parent; Doris R. Entwisle and Karl L. Alexander, "Family Type and Children’s Growth in Reading and Math over the Primary Grades," Journal of Marriage and Family, May 1996, pp. 341–55; and Manning and Lamb, "Adolescent Well-being."
8 Carmen DeNavas-Walt, Bernadette D. Proctor, and Jessica Smith, Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2006, Current Population Reports, P60–233 (U.S. Census Bureau, 2007).
Consumer Expenditure Survey
Household-food-expenditure patterns: a cluster analysis.—Apr. 2007.
Expenditures of single parents: how does gender figure in?—Jul. 2002.
Teenagers: employment and contributions to family spending.—Sept. 2000.
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