The Chicken and Egg of Economic Disadvantage and Multiple Partner Fertility

Lindsay M. Monte, Northwestern University

There exists a known correlation between childbearing with more than one partner (or multiple partner fertility) and economic disadvantage. However, the direction of the relationship is not clear. On the one hand, an argument could be made that multiple partner fertility causes disadvantage by creating often unstable blended families, thus increasing the likelihood of single-parenthood and its associated economic repercussions. Alternately, one could also argue that poverty strains nuclear families and increases their risk of dissolution, which would then put women at greater risk of multiple partner fertility. In this paper, I use the Illinois Family Study dataset to examine the causal direction of this relationship by locating the arrival of children by a second father in women’s life histories of childbearing, work, and public assistance use in an effort to shed some light on the chicken and egg conundrum of multiple partner fertility and disadvantage.

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Presented in Session 127: Fertility at the Extremes