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Single-Parent Family Structure, Child Development, and Child's Well-being
Unformatted Document Text:  BACKGROUND Over the past two decades, there has clearly been a demographic trend of rapidly increasing prevalence of out-of-marriage child-bearing and family dissolution which often results in single-parenthood in families with children. Family is an important life setting where much of small children’s care and socialization takes place. For older children and adolescents, family environment and resources also constitute an integral component of their quality of life directly affecting their relational experiences and life chances. A large amount of sociological work has dedicated to understanding single- parent family and its impact on child’s well-being and generally point to the disadvantage of children from single-parent families relative to those from two-parent families. But many questions remain unanswered. For example, how does single-parent family compared to blended family arrangement? Does single-parent family structure exert deleterious effect equally on all racial and ethnic groups? Do these effects vary according child’s age? Do they equally affect boys and girls? And most importantly, what mechanisms can explain the lower level of developmental outcomes among children from single-parent families? Many single-parent families live in poverty. According to the 2000 census, poverty rate in female-headed single-parent families is 26.4% versus 6.4% for two-parent families. So is the effect simply reflecting the higher poverty rate among single-parent family? Facing the rapidly increasing prevalence of single-parent families in our society, these questions have come to occupy an important position in sociological and public health inquiry. 2

Authors: Wen, Ming.
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background image
BACKGROUND
Over the past two decades, there has clearly been a demographic trend of rapidly
increasing prevalence of out-of-marriage child-bearing and family dissolution which
often results in single-parenthood in families with children. Family is an important life
setting where much of small children’s care and socialization takes place. For older
children and adolescents, family environment and resources also constitute an integral
component of their quality of life directly affecting their relational experiences and life
chances. A large amount of sociological work has dedicated to understanding single-
parent family and its impact on child’s well-being and generally point to the disadvantage
of children from single-parent families relative to those from two-parent families. But
many questions remain unanswered. For example, how does single-parent family
compared to blended family arrangement? Does single-parent family structure exert
deleterious effect equally on all racial and ethnic groups? Do these effects vary
according child’s age? Do they equally affect boys and girls? And most importantly,
what mechanisms can explain the lower level of developmental outcomes among children
from single-parent families? Many single-parent families live in poverty. According to
the 2000 census, poverty rate in female-headed single-parent families is 26.4% versus
6.4% for two-parent families. So is the effect simply reflecting the higher poverty rate
among single-parent family? Facing the rapidly increasing prevalence of single-parent
families in our society, these questions have come to occupy an important position in
sociological and public health inquiry.
2


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