Studies, Reviews and Research

Measuring Children’s Care Arrangements and Their Educational and Health Outcomes Internationally

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Abstract: Globally, there are many reasons children grow up without one or both parents. In higher-income nations, a parental break up is a major force behind non-nuclear family care arrangements whereas in low-income nations, higher death rates and the need to migrate for work may dictate whether or not children regularly see their parents, let alone live with them. Given the importance of children’s care arrangements for their development, this essay summarizes efforts to measure trends in children’s care arrangements in two regions of the world—Southeast Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Background on what determines children’s care arrangements and the association between child care arrangements and children’s development in these two regions are summarized. The results from the World Family Map project, an annual report that seeks to monitor the health of family life around the globe, are presented. This essay ends with a discussion about the strengths and limitations of international measurement of children’s care arrangements and directions for the field. Care arrangements—including family structure and living arrangements—are associated with many other indicators of family health, including non-marital childbearing, poverty, parental education, employment, and public spending. However, the literature has paid little attention to how care arrangements are associated with children’s wellbeing in an international context. This essay, therefore, focuses on family structure and children’s living arrangements with the acknowledgement that these family contexts are confounded with other social and family indicators of wellbeing.

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