We Got Married, Now What? Family Dynamics and Economic Well-Being after Marriage

Rukmalie Jayakody, Pennsylvania State University
Kristin Seefeldt, University of Michigan

Supporters of marriage promotion policies argue that marriage entry will result in social and economic benefits for low-income women and their children. Critics counter that women may see few economic gains to marrying poor men and that incidences of domestic violence may increase. Additionally, we know little about the male partner’s role in the family, and how his role and influence varies depending on his biological ties to children within and outside the household. These issues are examined using a mixed-method quantitative-qualitative design that includes panel survey data from the Women’s Employment Study (WES) and qualitative data gathered from a sub-sample of WES respondents. We begin by examining what “new” families look like after recent union transitions—whether the resulting family is a biological two-parent, blended, step, or other family type. Next, we examine the implications of these family types for family dynamics, economic and social resources, and child well-being.

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Presented in Session 136: Should Public Policy Promote Marriage? How Can It?