According to a new analysis of US census data, the wealth of a family is as greater predictor of the parenting received by a child than whether or not the mother and father are married.
Close to two thirds of children in the US live with married parents, the data suggests, while 27.5 per cent live with single parents. By contrast, only five per cent live with cohabiting parents – only slightly more than the 4.5 per cent who live with guardians.
Researchers noted some modest variations in approaches to parenting between different family structures. The percentage of married parents with children aged six to 12 who limited TV viewing was 93 per cent, for example, compared to 90 per cent of single parents whose children were in the same age group. Similarly, 54 per cent of married parents with children aged three to five read to them on a daily basis, compared to 50 per cent of unmarried parents living together.
But family finances had a greater influence on parenting styles. More than forty per cent of families earning salaries 200 per cent or more above the poverty line took part in sports with their children – a full 20 per cent more than the percentage of families on the poverty line. Meanwhile, 35 per cent of children in families in the same salary bracket took part in clubs, compared to only 20 per cent of poor children.
Married couples are more less likely to be poor, said the researchers: 37 per cent of cohabiting families live on the poverty line, compared to only 14 of married ones. Children living in poverty were also more likely to seen major changes in the structure of their families. The percentage of youngsters living below the poverty line who had done so was 22 per cent, compared to 17 per cent of other families.
The researchers said:
“Poverty can affect families economically, socially and emotionally and can lead to family instability.”
A Child’s Day: Living Arrangements, Nativity, and Family Transitions is available here.
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