Archive for the ‘demographics’ Category

Newest Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage Data from the U.S. Census (2015)

September 14, 2016demographics, osborne

Social policy and health scholars wait nervously at the end of each summer for the Census Bureau to release its annual report on Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States. This report is one of the most important national scorecards on our collective health and wellbeing.

Most of us breathed a sigh of relief when we saw the impressive gains in median income and declines in the proportion of us living in poverty and lacking health insurance in this newest release (2015). After years of stagnation, especially for those at the bottom end of the income distribution, incomes grew considerably. This growth occurred for all income levels and race and ethnic groups; in fact, the most vulnerable and disadvantaged among us saw the greatest gains – a fact to truly celebrate.

Despite these important gains, scholars here in the South continue to lament that our region trails the rest of the country. Whereas median household income grew 5.2% for the average household in the U.S., it grew only 2.9% for those of us living in the South. Our poverty rate is 15.3% compared to the national average of 13.5%, and in Texas, we have nearly double the rate of uninsured households (17.1%) than the rest of the country (9.1%).

State-level data will be released tomorrow, so we will have more detailed information on how Texas is doing compared to other Southern states and compared to the U.S. as a whole. But if history is a guide, the numbers will show we have a lot of work to do to live up to the goals we all have for our great state. More than 1 out of every 10 children in the U.S. is born in Texas; therefore, the wellbeing of our Texas children and families fuels the wellbeing of the whole nation. Our growth is not only important for a robust economy and society here in Texas, but it is vital for the health and wellbeing of the country as a whole.

Cynthia Osborne, Ph.D.

Director, Child and Family Research Partnership
Director, Center for Health and Social Policy
Associate Professor, The University of Texas at Austin LBJ School of Public Affairs


From Vietnam to Today: The Changing American Family and the Evolving Concept of Fatherhood

April 27, 2016demographics, fathers, mothers



This week, the LBJ Presidential Library and The University of Texas at Austin are hosting a historic event exploring the lessons and legacy of the Vietnam War. The war’s impact on U.S. foreign policy, Lyndon B. Johnson’s presidency, and American culture is unquestionable.

As the war came to an end in 1975, soldiers coming home returned to a changing America and a changing American family. The United States was undergoing a major shift from the structural family norms of the preceding century, becoming more open and accepting of different family dynamics.

In the 1970s, two-thirds of families thought it was better if fathers were breadwinners and mothers homemakers

Family views on the roles of men and women have changed greatly. In the 1970s, two-thirds of families thought it was better if fathers were breadwinners and mothers homemakers, whereas in 2014, less than one-third of families had this view.[1]

There has been a shift in marriage trends, with overall marriage rates declining over the past fifty years. Today just over 50 percent of Americans are married as compared to 72 percent in 1960s [2].  The number of children born to unmarried mothers has increased significantly. In 2014, 40.3 percent of children were born to unmarried parents, compared to less than 10 percent throughout the 1960s.[3] Cohabitation among parents has become much more common, now accounting for 58 percent of all births outside of marriage.[4]

Changing norms for women have also affected family structures and dynamics. No-fault divorce laws were adopted beginning with California in 1969 and then spread to all 50 states.[5] During the 1960s and 1970s, legal access to birth control including oral contraceptives became increasingly available, and in 1973 the U.S. Supreme Court made abortion legal in the landmark Roe v. Wade decision.[6] These cultural changes created new opportunities for women and led to an increased presence in the labor market, doubling from 30.3 million in the 1970s to 72.7 million in the mid-2000s.[7]

Research shows that fathers’ involvement in their children’s lives has many benefits

As family dynamics changed, however, most of America continued to view fathers only as breadwinners, neglecting to understand and value the important role they can play as caregivers to their children. A growing body of research shows that fathers’ involvement in their children’s lives has many benefits. High-quality father involvement and support are associated with positive child outcomes, such as decreased delinquency and behavioral problems, improved cognitive development, increased educational attainment, and better psychological well-being.[8]

Historically social programs have been geared almost exclusively towards mothers and children, but now there are a growing number of new programs targeted specifically at fathers,” says Dr. Cynthia Osborne, policy professor and director of CFRP. “Today, federal and state policymakers recognize that dads are more than a paycheck or child support payment, and that supporting them as active participants also supports the children.

Fatherhood programs have now evolved from a narrow focus on financial stability and support to a more balanced agenda that emphasizes healthy relationships, parenting skills, and father involvement. Though the programs take a variety of approaches towards achieving these ends, they share the common goal of ensuring that fathers are positively involved in their children’s lives.

American families have indeed changed dramatically since the Vietnam War-era and continue to be dynamic today. Recognizing the importance of the role of the father is one way to support them.

Dr. Cynthia Osborne and her team at her policy research group, the Child and Family Research Partnership (CFRP) at the LBJ School of Public Affairs, are currently working with the state of Texas to develop a comprehensive approach to supporting fathers and their children.

More about CFRP’s research on fatherhood at


[1] Cotter, D. & Hermsen, J. (2014). Brief: Back on Track? The Stall and Rebound in Support for Women’s New Roles in Work and Politics, 1977-2012. Council on Contemporary Families. Retrieved from:

[2] Taylor, P., Parker, K., Coh, D., Passel, J., Livingston, G., (2011) Barely Half of U.S. Adults Are Married – A Record Low. Pew Research Center. Social & Demographic Trends. Retrieved from:

[3] Child Trends Databank. (2015). Births to unmarried women. Retrieved from

[4] Curtin, S.C., Ventura, S.J., & Martinez, G.M. (2014). Recent Declines in Nonmarital Childbearing in the United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics Data Brief No. 162, August 2014. Retrieved from:

[5] Katz, S.N. (1994). Historical Perspective and Current Trends in the Legal Process of Divorce. Children and Divorce 4(1). Retrieved from

[6] Our Bodies Ourselves. “A Brief History of Birth Control in the U.S.” Retrieved from

[7] United States Census Bureau (2014). How Do We Know? America’s Changing Labor Force. Retrieved from:

[8] Carlson, M.J. & Magnuson, K. (2011) Low-Income Fathers’ Influence on Children. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. 635(95) 95-116.; Carlson, M.J., McLanahan, S., & Brooks-Gunn, J. (2007) Fathers’ Involvement and Young Children’s Behavior in Fragile Families. Extended Abstract.; Carlson, M.J., McLanahan, S. (2009) Fathers in Fragile Families. Center for Research on Child Wellbeing. Working Paper WP09-14-FF.; Harris, K.M., Furstenberg, F.F. & Marmer, J.K. (1998). Paternal involvement with adolescents in intact families: The influence of fathers over the life course. Demography. 35 (2), 201-216.; Carlson, M. J. (2006), Family Structure, Father Involvement, and Adolescent Behavioral Outcomes. Journal of Marriage and Family, 68, 137–154.

CFRP Co-Sponsoring Council of Contemporary Families Conference

February 2, 2016demographics, events, family instability

Council of Contemporary Families Conference: Families as They Really Are: Demographics, Disparities, and Debates

March 4-5, 2016 | UT  Austin
Liberal Arts Building | 118 Inner Campus Drive

The Child and Family Research Partnership at the LBJ School is proud to co-sponsor a fantastic conference hosted by colleagues at the Council of Contemporary Families (CCF) at The University of Texas at Austin this Friday and Saturday, March 4-5. CCF’s 2016 conference’s theme is “Families as They Really Are: Demographics, Disparities, and Debates.” This two-day event for researchers, clinicians, non-profit professionals, and journalists includes interactive panels and workshops about the state of contemporary families. Professor Wendy Manning (Bowling Green State University) and Professor Dolores Acevedo-Garcia (Brandeis University) will give keynote addresses. Click for registration information and the event program.


KIDS COUNT: An Amazing Resource for Data About Kids

March 11, 2015data, demographics, early childhood, teens

CaptureLast week, CFRP faculty and staff attended the Center for Public Policy Priorities’ (CPPP) release of the 2015 State of Texas Children report. CPPP is home to the Texas KIDS COUNT Project, the state level site of the national KIDS COUNT effort funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

We’re fortunate to have such a great resource as CPPP right in our backyard in Austin. In addition to holding special events, they also provide access to several interactive, online data tools, including the national KIDS COUNT Data Center. The KIDS COUNT Data Center hosts data on children at both the state and county levels for over 50 indicators, including demographics, economic well-being, education, family and community, health, and safety and risky behavior.

CPPP’s 2015 report highlights some key data about children in Texas:

  • Capture3More than 7 million kids, or nearly 1 in 11 kids in the U.S., live in Texas.
  • 25 percent of Texas kids live in poverty, yet only 5 percent of Texas parents are unemployed.
  • Texas kids’ uninsured rate is the second highest in the nation. Only 1 out of 8 Texas children are insured.
  • 60 percent of Texas students are low-income (below 200% of poverty line).
  • For every dollar invested in Pre-K, Texas saves a minimum of $3.50.
  • 11 percent of babies in Texas were born to teen mothers. Texas has the highest rate of repeat births to teens.

For the summary report, full report, and video recording of the release event, go to the CPPP KIDS COUNT page.


New CFRP Working Papers

January 16, 2015cfrp, demographics, paternity

Understanding Today’s Changing Families - When their children are born, most unmarried parents have high expectations for the future, but they are particularly vulnerable to financial and relationship instability. Their children are disproportionately likely to experience negative health and wellbeing outcomes, in part because of low father involvement. We provide an overview of the findings in this area and conclude that father involvement is largely a function of parental relationship quality. READ MORE

Showing Up is Half The Battle: Predicting Mothers’ Pregnancy Complications Among Unmarried Parents - Prior research has documented an association between prenatal father involvement and positive outcomes for maternal and child health, including increased prenatal care usage, decreased smoking and alcohol consumption, and a reduction in low birth weight, preterm birth, and infant mortality. CFRP investigated a broad set of prenatal indicators intended to help isolate the factors most related to maternal health complications during pregnancy and at the time of birth. READ MORE

Dads on the Dotted Line: A Look at the In-Hospital Paternity Establishment Process - Few have examined the mechanics of the paternity establishment process itself to understand whether it is functioning optimally for parents and hospitals. Drawing on original data collected through two separate studies, this paper presents a descriptive portrait of the paternity establishment process from two perspectives—that of unmarried parents and that of birth registrars, the certified hospital staff who administer the process.READ MORE


New Census Reports – Child Poverty Down Overall, But Will It Fall in Texas Too?

September 16, 2014data, demographics

Today the U.S. Census Bureau released data about income, poverty, and health insurance coverage in the U.S. for 2013 based on the Current Population Survey. For the first time since 2000, the child poverty rate declined from the previous year. In 2013, 19.9 percent of children under age 18 lived in poverty, down from 21.8 percent in 2012. The number of children in poverty also declined from 16.1 million in 2012 to 14.7 million in 2013.


Texas typically has higher than average rates of children living in poverty. In 2012, nearly 26 percent (25.8%) of Texas children lived in poverty. On Thursday, the U.S. Census Bureau will release data from the American Community Survey, which provides information on poverty at the state-level and we will see if child poverty in Texas experienced a similar decline.


Helpful links:


Updated U.S. Poverty Report Released and Quick Links

September 19, 2013data, demographics

The U.S. Census Bureau recently released its annual Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage Report updated with 2012 national level data, as well as briefs and stats from the 2012 American Community Survey for state and community level data. The data from these resources are the foundation of and motivation for many aspects of public policy work and research.

In a nutshell, in 2012, “real median household income and the poverty rate were not statistically different from the previous year, while the percentage of people without health insurance coverage decreased.” However, there are lots of stats behind that summary – here are some quick links straight to the source:


1 in 5 Teen Births are Repeat Births

April 18, 2013demographics, pregnancy, teens

Though teen pregnancy rates have been declining, still more than 365,000 teens, ages 15 to 19, gave birth in 2010. Many of these teens have repeat births. A repeat (or subsequent) teen birth is defined as “the second (or more) pregnancy ending in a live birth before age 20″. Nationally, 18.3% of births to teens are repeat births. In CFRP’s home state, Texas, the rate is even higher, and it actually has the highest repeat teen pregnancy rate in the country, at 21.9% (The National Campaign’s State and National Comparisons).

Nationally, there were 66,800 repeat teen births in 2010, or an average of 183 per day. Of these, 85% were second births, 13% third births, and 2% were fourth to six births. For more stats, click for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s Vital Signs April 2013 issue and the National Vital Statistics Final Report on Births in 2010.

CFRP Director Cynthia Osborne Presents at Population Association of America Conference

April 13, 2013cfrp, demographics, family instability

CFRP Director, Dr. Cynthia Osborne, presents with colleague Dr. Paula Fomby today at PAA’s 2013 Annual Meeting in New Orleans, LA. Their paper and presentation titled, Family Instability, Multipartner Fertility and Behavior in Middle Childhood, looks at two concepts in family demography that capture the dynamic and complex nature of family structure, family instability and family complexity. Family instability is the repeated changes in children’s family structure when parents form and dissolve unions, and multipartner fertility is a parent’s experience of having children with more than one partner.

Each phenomenon is associated with children’s compromised well-being. Drs. Fomby and Osborne investigate the extent to which instability and multipartner fertility co-occur and consider whether the two processes have distinct consequences for children’s behavior. They use longitudinal data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (N=3,377) to document and explain the association of family instability and multipartner fertility with three measures of child behavior at age 9: mother-reported and teacher-reported externalizing behavior and child-reported delinquency. Preliminary results indicate that children who experienced either event had higher behavior problem scores than children in stable, single-partner families, and children who had experienced both events had the highest average levels of behavior problems.

Click to download the full paper, Family Instability, Multipartner Fertility and Behavior in Middle Childhood.

Demographic Trends in U.S. for Hispanic Adolescents

April 2, 2013demographics, teens

In just 7 years, Hispanic youth will account for about 25% of adolescents between age 10 and 19 in the U.S. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Adolescent Health together with the Office of Minority Health recently produced a snapshot about Hispanic adolescents on a range of indicators, including health care, teen pregnancy, higher education, and mental and physical health. Have a look at the March issue of Adolescent Health Insider.