Daddy Makes Three: Postconception Cohabitation, Household Environment, and Child Development

Jessica Su, University at Buffalo, State University of New York (SUNY)

Postconception cohabitations are an increasingly common response to nonmarital pregnancies, yet little is known about how children fare in this type of arrangement. Using data from the Fragile Families Study, the current study examined associations between postconception cohabitation and the household environment and development of children ages 3-11. In terms of economic resources, father involvement, and family stability, children born to postconception cohabitors fared slightly better than children born to unpartnered parents, slightly worse than those born to pre- and postconception married parents, and similarly to those born to preconception cohabitors. Despite these differences in the household environment, children born to postconception cohabitors had similar behavior problems and cognitive test scores compared to children in all other family structures. These results suggest that the increase in postconception cohabitation is not likely to have negative implications for child development, although it may have consequences related to family instability and economic resources.

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Presented in Session 172: Complex and Diverse Familial Contexts for Children