This is the second report based on data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) which provides a portrait of the well-being of children and their daily activities.1 This report addresses the topics presented in the initial report, such as reading interaction, extracurricular activities, and academic achievement and presents some new ones: how frequently children have meals with their parents and parents’ feelings toward their children. These aspects of growing up are important topics for study in light of the changes in family life and composition that have been occurring in recent years, such as the significant proportion of children currently growing up in single-parent families.2
Previous research established a link between family structure and various measures of child development and well-being.3 Children in two-parent families fare better developmentally than children in single-parent families, with children of divorced parents having the most problems. In addition, children living with two biological parents are less likely to have problems than children living with one biological parent and one step-parent.4 Child well-being indicators associated with children of divorced or single parents include low measures of academic achievement (e.g., repeated grades, low marks, low class standing), increased likelihood of dropping out of high school, early childbearing, and increased levels of depression, stress, anxiety, and aggression.
This report highlights a variety of indicators that portray children’s experiences both at home and at school, such as daily interactions with parents, including: how frequently children have meals with their parents; how often parents talk to, play with, and praise their children; incidence of reading and going on outings together; and whether parents impose rules about television viewing at home.
1 Jason Fields, Kristin Smith, Loretta Bass andTerry Lugaila, A Child’s Day: Home, School, and Play (Selected Indicators of Child Well-Being). Current Population Reports, P70-68. U.S. Census Bureau, Washington, DC, 2001.
2 Jason Fields, Living Arrangements of Children: Fall 1996. Current Population Reports, P70-74. U.S. Census Bureau, Washington, DC, 2001.
3 Robert Hauser, Brett Brown, and William Prosser (editors), Indicators of Children’s Well-Being, Russell Sage Foundation, New York, 1997.
4 Sara McLanahan and Gary Sandefur, Growing Up With a Single Parent: What Hurts, What Helps, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1994.