Research Center for Families and Children

  • Heath, Claudia (PI)

Grants and Contracts Details


Abstract Through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Families and Children, each state has a responsibility to provide programs that address federal initiatives regarding promoting marriage-specifically as an initiative to address poverty. An essential component in operationalizing policy-based efforts to promote marriage is understanding what lies behind current marriage and divorce behaviors and choices. To gain that knowledge this study proposes to gather data on selected social and economic indicators related to marriage choices in Kentucky-with implications for further research focused on the South. The survey instrument will include questions on 1] attitudes about marriage, divorce, cohabitation, and singleness; 2] general current demographic data usually collected with special attention to demographic data about the family of origin; and 3] employment related data, measures of economic well-being, and utilization of government services such as TANF, Food Stamps, and Medicaid. Research findings would be based on telephone interviews conducted with a statewide sample of approximately 1,800 - 2,300 adults by adding questions to the UK SRC Spring Kentucky Survey. The sample would consist of -2,000 adults from randomly selected households and another -300 randomly selected current Medicaid clients. For the purposes of this study, economic well being will be measured in three alternative ways: 1] persons who currently, at the time of the interview, receive Food Stamps, Medicaid, and/or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF); or 2] persons who within the last 5 years received Food Stamps, Medicaid, and/or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF); or 3] persons who report total taxable household income divided by number of persons in the household sharing that income-a proxy income to need ratio-at two alternative levels: a) below the poverty threshold of income to needs equal to 100% representing those in poverty and, alternatively, b) an income to needs ratio below 200% representing poor, low-income persons. These alternative measures clearly identify economically disadvantaged individuals of particular interest when considering government policies aimed at reducing poverty through marriage. Lerman (Kaye, http://aspe.hhs.~ovlhsp/marriage-well-being03/summary.htm) has identified gaps in the scarce literature addressing the economic effects of marriage. These gaps and the consequences of the gaps are the main forces driving this proposed project. Scholarly and popular press publications tout the economic benefits of marriage while ignoring selection bias. Additionally authors write and speak as though correlation infers causation. Lastly, authors overlook the potential special circumstances for lowincome persons regarding such elementary issues such as availability of a suitable mate. These issues prompt the search for knowledge proposed in this study and drive the conceptuaVtheoretical and statistical model(s) proposed. Using path analysis and twoand three-stage least squares, direct and indirect effects of antecedent and intervening variables will be used to estimate the effects of marriage on economic well-being of families in Kentucky. Additionally, estimating the probability of marriage will be use to generate the correction factor for selection bias. Analysis of the data will provide knowledge concerning marriage attitudes and behaviors in Kentucky and differences among various regions within the Commonwealth. From this knowledge effective marriage initiatives and policies can be developed.
Effective start/end date1/1/042/28/05


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