Abstract

We use data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study to describe the living arrangements of new, unwed mothers and to examine the selection process that underlies choices of living arrangements. Our analysis goes beyond previous studies by examining a wide diversity of living arrangements for a homogenous sample of recent unwed mothers and by using information on both parents’ demographic and human capital characteristics and the quality of their relationships. We find that about half the new unwed mothers are cohabiting at the time their children are born, and only 17% are living alone. We also find that mothers’ choices of living arrangements are significantly related to parents’ human capital, the quality of their relationship, and the cost of housing.

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