Parental marriage correlates with children’s academic success, but isolating causal effects of marriage on academic achievement is difficult. Parents who marry differ from parents who remain single; these differences could affect achievement through pathways other than marriage. Although social scientists do not have a complete understanding of how individuals with different demographic characteristics make choices about whether and when to marry, and what consequences those decisions may have for children’s educational outcomes, many policymakers blame the rise in single-parent families for impeding progress in educational outcomes. This project examine the stability of marriages formed at different times relative to the conception of a child, and investigates a novel strategy to isolate the causal effects of parental marriage on children’s achievement drawing on a dataset of nearly 400,000 births that includes, for all births where the parents were unmarried 12 months prior to conception, whether the parents married and when.
Elizabeth Oltmans Ananat, Assistant Professor of Public Policy and Economics, Co-PI
Anna Gassman-Pines, Assistant Professor of Public Policy and Psychology & Neuroscience, Co-PI
Christina Gibson-Davis, Associate Professor of Public Policy, Sociology, and Psychology & Neuroscience, Co-PI