Sunday, April 03, 2011

Multiple Baby Daddies!

They can make you poor. That's the title of a Forbes blog post about a new study. I think that the "they" in the title refers to women.

The study itself:
Twenty percent of US mothers have children with different biological fathers, a study presented at the Population Association of America meeting revealed today. Cassandra Dorius, from the University of Michigan Institute of Social research added that mothers of multiple children of different biological fathers tend to be less educated, under-employed, and have lower incomes.

Meaning: Multiple partner fertility defined as having children with more than one partner.

When Dorius examined patterns in families with more than two children, she discovered that 28% of them had different birth fathers. "It's pervasive.", Dorius added.

Dorius said that having multiple fathers had consequences for both the children and the mothers - they tend to be disadvantaged compared to other mothers in the country. A mother whose children had different biological fathers tends to spend approximately three times longer in poverty during adulthood, and had about 1 to 2 years less formal education than other females.


Because of the greater number of variables for both the mother and the children, Darius said this type of family structure tends to be more stressful.

Dorius said:
"Everyday decisions are more complex and family rules are more ambiguous. Families need to figure out who lives with whom and when, who pays for things like clothing, who is responsible for child support."

This is the only study to look at a wide section of the community. Previous ones concentrated on very young mothers or those located in inner-cities.

Although a considerable number of such families have lower incomes, they exist in every socioeconomic level. 43% of women who have children from more than one biological father were married when they had their first child.

All the write-ups of the study are somewhat weird. For one thing, given the divorce and remarriage rates in the US, one would expect a fairly high percentage of families where all the children don't share both the same father and the same mother. I mean just by thinking about it. For another thing, it's not clear to me why the causality is assumed to run in only one direction, i.e., from multiple partner fertility to poverty. It could well be the case that the causality runs in the other direction. Or both ways. After all, poverty itself is stressful.

But perhaps the study could control for that?

I bet you know what I'm going to ask next. Where is the study about male multiple partner fertility and its impact on children's poverty? Or where is the study about multiple baby mummies? If we wish to use that tinted phrasing.