Mother’s Union History and the Health of Children Born to Single Mothers

Kristi Williams, Ohio State University
Sharon Sassler, Cornell University
Elizabeth Cooksey, Ohio State University

Using data from the NLSY79 linked mother-child files, we examine whether children born to single mothers who marry or cohabit have better (or worse) psychological and physical health outcomes in early adulthood than those whose mothers remained unmarried. We limit our analysis to first-born children who were born to and lived with a single mother and distinguish mothers’ union histories by marital and cohabitation status, dissolution status of the union, and paternity status of partner. Preliminary results indicate that, on average, children born to single mothers receive few mental or physical health benefits in young adulthood if their mothers subsequently marry or cohabit vs. remain unpartnered.

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Presented in Session 175: Union Status Changes and Health