Forming a Union Plus Kids: The Role of Children in Stepfamily Formation

Carrie E. Spearin, Brown University

Understanding the effect of children on family formation is increasingly important given the changes in nonmarital childbearing, cohabitation, and divorce occurring throughout the 20th century. Children most often coreside with their mothers after union dissolution (Seltzer 1991), making them likely to live with their mothers’ subsequent partners. Fathers, removed from living with their own children, are likely to form new unions that include living with their partners’ children. While prior research has examined the effect of children on women’s later family formation, few have examined this from a male perspective. Using NLSY79 data, I examine how children affect both men’s and women’s entry into a stepfamily, or coresidence with partners’ children. It is expected that men and women differ in their union formation strategies largely due to the presence of children. Additionally, this effect of children will be greater for women, but mediated by men’s contact with nonresident biological children.

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Presented in Poster Session 3: Children and Youth, Adolescence, Parenting, Transition to Adulthood, Life Course