By: John Besl
The Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, designed by a team of researchers at Princeton and Columbia Universities and launched in 1998, follows a birth cohort of nearly 5,000 children, three-quarters of them born to unmarried parents. The study focuses on the burgeoning number of “fragile families,” couples who are unmarried when their children are born. In several publications and data briefs, researchers provide strong evidence that having married parents enhances the life chances of children. The rapid rise in nonmarital childbearing over recent decades, and especially in the first decade of the 21st century, has raised serious concerns among academic researchers and policy makers about the implications of nonmarital births for our country’s future health and productivity.