Multiple-Father Families and Welfare

Eirik Evenhouse, Mills College
Siobhan Reilly, Mills College

The biological relationships between children and the adults they live with is a perspective of emerging importance. In this study, we explore the connection between welfare benefit levels and multiple-partner fertility. In contrast to past studies of welfare and family structure, most of which focus on a mother’s marital status or the absence of a male partner, we focus on the biological relationship between child and adult. Pooling 9 years of data from the SIPP (the U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of Income and Program Participation), we obtain observations on roughly 50,000 households with children. We exploit the information in SIPP’s rarely-used “household relationship matrix” to ascertain the biological relationships between children and each adult they live with. This lets us determine the number of fathers represented among a mother’s children.

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Presented in Session 176: Multi-partnered Fertility