Family Structure and Children's Well-Being: The Relative Importance of Financial Resources and Parent-Child Relationship Quality

Sandra Krapf, Federal Institute for Population Research
Marcel Raab , University of Mannheim

A considerable body of literature has identified that children living with a stepparent or with a single parent face disadvantages compared to children in nuclear families, i.e., those who live with both their biological parents in a household. In the literature, two basic mechanisms are often discussed to explain this disadvantage: First, parental separation is associated with a reduction of resources a child has access to, which leads to a reduction of well-being. Second, parental separation (and potential repartnering of a parent) changes family roles leading to potentially higher conflict levels between family members and thus lower levels of well-being. Existing studies indicate that both mechanisms are relevant. However, it is not yet clear which mechanism is more important in explaining the lower levels of child well-being in post-separation families. This paper analyzes the mediating role of household income and parent-child relationship quality of single-parent families and stepfamilies. For our mediation analysis, we use the German family panel pairfam that provides information about children’s self-reported well-being and family relationship quality as well as parents’ report of financial resources. In order to identify age differences in the effects of family structure, we estimate multiple regressions for two different age groups: 8 to 11 and 12 to 15 year old children.

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 Presented in Session 103. Children in Diverse Family Structures