Unwed Fathers and Fragile Families.

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McLanahan, S.
Garfinkel, I.
Brooks-Gunn, J.
Zhao, H.
et al.
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An examination of the role of unwed fathers, this working paper challenges the common perception that unwed fathers are not active participants in their children's' lives. Research statistics on unmarried fathers, mothers and their children may be incorrect in concluding that most unmarried fathers abandon their children or less attached than those in other countries. The authors examine reasons why these prior studies may not be accurate, including overrepresentation of minority and teen parents in study populations, and other factors, especially in the first years after birth. Analysis of unwed mothers' reports in the Child Supplement to the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY-CS), a survey of 12,000 individuals, show high levels of paternal involvement in early infancy and childhood and general stability in the family. Characteristics and capabilities of unwed fathers are discussed. Data from another large survey of unwed parents, Fragile Families, is presented, as well as information from two pilot programs in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Chicago, Illinois. Early data from another pilot program in Oakland, California also is explored. 21 references, 8 tables.

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