Future of Families and Child Wellbeing Study


children and families photo

The Future of Families & Child Wellbeing Study (formerly the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study) is following a cohort of nearly 5,000 children born in large U.S. cities between 1998 and 2000 (roughly three-quarters of whom were born to unmarried parents). We refer to unmarried parents and their children as “fragile families” to underscore that they are families and that they are at greater risk of breaking up and living in poverty than more traditional families.

The core Study was originally designed to primarily address four questions of great interest to researchers and policy makers: (1) What are the conditions and capabilities of unmarried parents, especially fathers?; (2) What is the nature of the relationships between unmarried parents?; (3) How do children born into these families fare?; and (4) How do policies and environmental conditions affect families and children?

The core Study consists of interviews with both mothers, fathers, and/or primary caregivers at birth and again when children are ages one, three, five, nine, and fifteen. The parent interviews collect information on attitudes, relationships, parenting behavior, demographic characteristics, health (mental and physical), economic and employment status, neighborhood characteristics, and program participation. Additionally, in-home assessments of children and their home environments were conducted at ages three, five, nine, and fifteen. The in-home interview collects information on children’s cognitive and emotional development, health, and home environment. Several collaborative studies provide additional information on parents’ medical, employment and incarceration histories, religion, child care and early childhood education.

See the Study’s website for more information, news, and publications.  

Six waves of data are publicly available through the Office of Population Research data archive.