Mark Wadsworth

This is a spare 'blog in case my main 'blog at isn't working

As we all suspected

From the IFS press release:

Children born to married parents achieve better cognitive and social outcomes, on average, than children born into other family forms, including cohabiting unions. This report asks why this is so: is it the parents’ marital status per se that results in better outcomes for their children, or is it because married and cohabiting couples are different in some other ways, such as their level of education, which also matter for child development?

Differences in outcomes between children whose parents are married and those who cohabit may simply reflect these differences in other characteristics rather than be caused by marriage…

Go on, tell us! Damn, we’re going to have to skip right to the end of their report:

Taken together, these findings support the broad conclusions reported in Goodman and Greaves (2010a and 2010b) and suggest that the gaps in cognitive and socio-emotional development between children born to married and cohabiting parents mainly or entirely reflect the fact that different types of people choose to get married (the selection effect), rather than that marriage itself has a direct effect on relationship stability or child development.

On the basis of this evidence, therefore, there does not seem to be a strong reason in terms of child development for policymakers to encourage parents to get married before they bear children. There is, however, good reason for policymakers to continue to try to increase the educational attainment of today’s children (tomorrow’s parents) as a means of improving the outcomes of future generations of children.


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