Pathways of children's long-term living arrangements: A latent class analysis

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This study employed latent class analysis to create children's family structure trajectories from birth through adolescence using merged mother and child data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (N=1870). Input variables distinguished between biological fathers and stepfathers as well as mother's marriages and cohabitations. The best-fitting model revealed five latent trajectories of children's long-term family structure: continuously married biological parents (55%), long-term single mothers (18%), married biological parents who divorce (12%), a highly unstable trajectory distinguished by gaining at least one stepfather (11%), and cohabiting biological parents who either marry or break up (4%). Multinomial logistic regression indicated that mother's education, race, teen birth status, and family of origin characteristics were important predictors of the long-term family trajectories in which their children grew up. These findings suggest that latent class analysis is a valuable statistical tool for understanding children's complete family structure experiences.

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Social science research

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