This study addresses four sets of related questions: (1) What are the conditions and capabilities of new unmarried parents, especially fathers? How many of these men hold steady jobs? How many want to be involved in raising their children? (2) What is the nature of the relationships between unmarried parents? How many of these couples are involved in stable relationships? What proportion expects to marry? What proportion is exposed to high levels of conflict or domestic violence? (3) What factors push new unmarried parents together? What factors pull them apart? In particular, how do public policies affect parents? behaviors and living arrangements? (4) What are the long-term consequences for parents, children, and society of new welfare regulations, stronger paternity establishment and stricter child support enforcement, and changes in healthcare and childcare financing and delivery? To answer these questions, the study follows families from the birth of the child through age four. New mothers are interviewed in person at the hospital within 48 hours of giving birth. Fathers are interviewed either at the hospital or someplace else as soon as possible after the birth. Three follow-up interviews will be conducted when the children are 12, 30, and 48 months old, including in-home child assessments at 30 and 48 months. The full sample will be representative of all nonmarital births in the U.S. to parents residing in cities with populations over 200,000. Also, the data are representative of non-marital births within each of the cities that comprise our sample. A comparison group of married parents also will be followed in each city. (Author abstract, modified)
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