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Dec/Jan 2011Vol. 11, No. 10Fragile Families Research Update

The rate of out-of-wedlock births continues to rise, with statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showing that 39.7 percent of U.S. children born in 2007 were born to single mothers. Along with the rise in single parenthood, there have been a number of research studies linking nonmarital childbearing to poorer outcomes for children. One of the most comprehensive, the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (FFCWS), began in 1998 by tracking 5,000 newborns. Researchers have continued to track those children and their parents, and the latest articles on the FFCWS comprise a recent issue of The Future of Children journal.

This journal includes both findings and recommendations on how to best support these children and families, which tend to be at-risk for a host of poor outcomes related to poverty, lack of education, incarceration, father absence, and more. The articles fall into three categories of topics:

  • Parents' relationships with each other and their children and how these change over time
  • The impact of the fragile family status on children's well-being
  • Policy implications

The articles include:

  • "Parental Relationships in Fragile Families" by Sara McLanahan and Audrey N. Beck
  • "Mothers' Economic Conditions and Sources of Support in Fragile Families" by Ariel Kalil and Rebecca M. Ryan
  • "Capabilities and Contributions of Unwed Fathers" by Robert I. Lerman
  • "Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing" by Jane Waldfogel, Terry-Ann Craigie, and Jeanne Brooks-Gunn
  • "Race and Ethnicity in Fragile Families" by Robert A. Hummer and Erin R. Hamilton
  • "An Ounce of Prevention: Policy Prescriptions to Reduce the Prevalence of Fragile Families" by Isabel Sawhill, Adam Thomas, and Emily Monea
  • "Incarceration in Fragile Families" by Christopher Wildeman and Bruce Western
  • "Unmarried Parents in College" by Sara Goldrick-Rab and Kia Sorensen
  • "Marriage and Fatherhood Programs" by Phillip A. Cowan, Carolyn Pape Cowan, and Virginia Knox

All of the articles can be downloaded free of charge on The Future of Children website: