Educational and Racial Variation in Women's Transitions into and out of Single Motherhood
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Families continue to be the primary institution for raising children, and family structure plays an important role in children's life experiences. Research suggests that marriage confers benefits to women and children, and living in a household headed by a single mother is negatively associated with education, economic and health outcomes for children. This study investigates women's chances of being a single mother and how those chances vary by race and educational attainment. The study also examines women's transitions out of single motherhood to marriage, and presumably to the benefits of marriage, and to cohabitation, an increasingly popular but less advantaged family form. The findings of this study are consistent with previous research that shows that single motherhood is concentrated among the most disadvantaged women. It also shows that single mothers' access to marriage and cohabitation is stratified by race and education. The results suggest that union formation, particularly marriage, may not be a viable option for the most disadvantaged single mothers, and public and private efforts to promote marriage without altering the social and economic context in which marriage occurs for some and not others may have little impact.
- Sociology