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Carsey: Rural Children Now Less Likely to Live in Married-Couple Families

By Beth Potier, Media Relations
November 26, 2008

The percentage of rural children living in married-couple families dropped to 68 percent in 2008, one percentage point below that of children in metropolitan areas, a new fact sheet from the Carsey Institute at UNH finds.

In 1990, the report finds, 76 percent of rural children and 72 percent of metropolitan-area (central city and suburban) children were living in married-couple families. But while marriage declined in both areas in the 1990s, urban rates bottomed out at 68 percent in 1998. The share of rural children living in married-couple families, however, plunged from 73 percent in 2000 to 68 percent in 2008.

“Numerous studies have shown that, in general, children growing up in a stable, married-couple family have more advantages and opportunities than those in a single-parent family,” says Carsey Institute senior fellow William O’Hare, who co-authored the fact sheet with Allison Churilla, a policy fellow at the Carsey Institute and a Ph.D. candidate in sociology at UNH.

The authors note that the poverty rate for children in married-couple families is much lower than that of single-parent families; the decline in the share of rural children in married-couple families since 2000 may help explain the rise in child poverty in rural America between 2000 and 2006.

To download a copy of the fact sheet, go to: http://www.carseyinstitute.unh.edu/publications/FS-Rural-married-couple-families-08.pdf.

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