Behind the “White Picket Fence”: Examining Relationship Stability among Low Income Married Couples

Laryssa Mykyta, University of Pennsylvania

The past 40 years brought profound changes in family structure, with declining marriage rates and increased nonmarital childbearing. Recently, these trends have become the focus of policy discussions and a government initiative to promote marriage among low income parents. In light of this attention, studies have focused on nonmarital childbearing and union formation among low income families. But little is known about low income parents who are married at the time of their child’s birth, or about the fate of these relationships over time. In this paper, I use the Fragile Families and Child-Wellbeing Study data and TLC-3 qualitative data to examine how low-income married parents differ from low-income unmarried parents in terms of their individual characteristics and relationship quality. In addition, I examine how attitudes towards parenting and marriage influence relationship quality and relationship dynamics across time for low-income married couples.

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Presented in Poster Session 2: Family, Households, Unions; Data, Methods, Study Design