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Examining the Relationship Between Child Well-Being and Transitions in the Presence of Parents or a Parent’s Cohabiting Partner

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Working Paper Number SEHSD-WP2021-06


Past research has linked family structure transitions to negative child outcomes, but studying the relationship between these topics has been complicated by selection and endogeneity issues. For example, poverty has been linked to both increased family instability and reduced child well-being. This study uses data from the 2018 Survey of Income and Program Participation to 1) address selection into family instability by estimating the propensity of children to experience a change in parental presence; and 2) analyze the relationship between parental transitions and child well-being. We study several child well-being outcomes: school engagement, participation in types of extracurricular activities, and health status. We identify a negative relationship between experiencing a transition in parental presence and participation in extracurricular activities. We also note contrasting effects of propensity score weights on our findings, indicating the relevance of incorporating them into future research of this sort.

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