Multiple partner fertility is the practice of having children with multiple partners. Fewer and fewer American families can be understood through a nuclear family lens; in this dissertation, I examine multiple partner fertility families in the United States in an effort to better understand this new form of American family life. First, I explore family processes in a sample of unmarried multiple partner fertility families using qualitative data. I find that it is conflict between men's current and former partners that is most problematic for these families, and that men's investment in children of prior relationships is what presages this conflict. This suggests that multiple partner fertility men face a "paternity paradox," the implications of which I discuss.
Next, I examine the economic precursors to, and ramifications of, the entry into multiple partner fertility for a sample of low-income women. I find that while relative economic well-being is not predictive of a birth to a second partner, women are subject to significantly greater economic stress subsequent to the transition into multiple partner fertility. These results suggest that it is not the extremes of poverty that cause women to enter into serial childbearing relationships, but rather the serial childbearing relationships that place women in circumstances of financial hardship.
Third, I examine couples' relationship trajectories as a function of their multiple partner fertility status. I find that men's children by prior partners inhibit marriage among couples who are unmarried at the time of a shared birth, and also some evidence that men's children may also increase the odds of union dissolution for all couples. These results again imply that men's fertility is particularly important for multiple partner fertility family outcomes. The amalgam of these results suggests that multiple partner fertility has serious implications for all members of blended families. Given that more than a third of all American children born are now born into multiple partner fertility families (Carlson and Furstenberg 2006), these results suggest a very real need to better understand the ways in which multiple partner fertility is affecting American families.
|Advisor:||Lewis, Dan A.|
|Commitee:||Duncan, Greg, England, Paula, Mandara, Jelani|
|Department:||Social Policy to Education and Social Policy - Human Development and Social Policy|
|School Location:||United States -- Illinois|
|Source:||DAI-A 70/05, Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Individual & family studies|
|Keywords:||Fertility, Multiple partner fertility, Stepfamily|
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