Half Full or Half Empty: Half-Siblings and Child Well-Being

Lindsay M. Monte, Northwestern University

As multiple-partner fertility rises in prevalence in the portrait of the U.S. family, there is evidence that these blended families face special challenges in line with their unique family forms. In this paper, I examine the implications of parents’ multiple-partner fertility for the children they have together. That is, for children born into biological-parent households, I ask whether the presence of half-siblings, either inside or outside the household, matters for outcomes in early childhood. Using the Fragile Families and Child Well-Being Study, I find that father’s children by a prior partner, in particular, are associated with increased likelihood of withdrawal, as well as an increased incidence of food insecurity, even though those children are unlikely to co-reside with the children in question. The mechanisms for such effects are considered.

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Presented in Session 95: Family Structure and Child Well-Being