Does Family Structure Affect Children's Educational Outcomes?

FRB Atlanta Working Paper No. 2000-13a

56 Pages Posted: 19 Mar 2001

See all articles by Donna K. Ginther

Donna K. Ginther

University of Kansas - Department of Economics

Robert A. Pollak

Washington University in St. Louis - John M. Olin Business School; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: December 2000

Abstract

In this paper we examine the effect of family structure on children's educational outcomes by exploiting the sibling structure in the NLSY and NLSY-Child to control for unobserved heterogeneity across families and individuals. We also compare outcomes for children within the same family - stepchildren with their half-siblings in the same blended family who are the biological children of both parents. Using panel data methods to control for unobserved heterogeneity across families, we find that family structure effects are statistically insignificant. Finally, comparing half-siblings in our data, we find no difference in educational outcomes as a function of family structure. Our empirical results are consistent with at least two interpretations. First, they can be interpreted as evidence that estimates of family structure effects reflect selection rather than causation. Second, they can be interpreted as evidence that the presence of stepchildren disrupts families.

Keywords: family structure, children, education

JEL Classification: J12, J13, J24

Suggested Citation

Ginther, Donna K. and Pollak, Robert A., Does Family Structure Affect Children's Educational Outcomes? (December 2000). FRB Atlanta Working Paper No. 2000-13a, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=246308 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.246308

Donna K. Ginther (Contact Author)

University of Kansas - Department of Economics ( email )

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Robert A. Pollak

Washington University in St. Louis - John M. Olin Business School ( email )

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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

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IZA Institute of Labor Economics

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