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Families and Parenting

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Urban Institute experts study public policies' effects on families and parents. We analyze family-leave policies, public supports for families, and government policies aimed at strengthening marriage. Our Low-Income Working Families project explores the hardships of employed families struggling to make ends meet.

A third of all families with children (13.4 million families) have incomes less than twice the federal poverty line. A sudden job loss or health crisis could derail them. Tax credits, food stamps, child care subsidies, and other work supports help. But they don't always close the gap between earnings and basic needs. Urban Institute analysts have proposed new initiatives to protect low-income working families and help them get ahead.

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How Does Unemployment Affect Family Arrangements for Children? (Discussion Papers/Low Income Working Families)
Stephan Lindner, Elizabeth Peters

This study analyzes whether and how the event of a job loss in families with children changes family arrangements. Comparing outcomes for children whose parents become unemployed with children whose parents do not, we find a positive relationship between a parent’s job loss and destabilizing changes in family arrangements in subsequent months for children initially living with married parents, a single mother, or a mother cohabiting with a partner. Among single mothers, these negative consequences are concentrated among those with no high school degree.

Posted to Web: August 28, 2014Publication Date: August 28, 2014

Understanding the Implications of Raising the Minimum Wage in the District of Columbia (Research Report)
Gregory Acs, Laura Wheaton, Maria E. Enchautegui, Austin Nichols

The minimum wage establishes a lower bound on what employers must pay their workers. The federal minimum wage is currently set at $7.25 an hour, but 22 states and the District of Columbia (DC) have established minimum wages above the federal minimum. Today, DC’s minimum wage is set one dollar higher than the federal minimum ($8.25), while the minimum wage in the neighboring jurisdictions of Maryland and Virginia use the federal minimum wage. However, DC and two neighboring counties in Maryland (Prince George’s County and Montgomery County) have passed legislation raising their minimum wages to $11.50 an hour by 2016 and 2017, respectively. This report examines the potential effects of raising DC’s minimum wage on DC workers, their families, and on the government programs that serve them.

Posted to Web: August 12, 2014Publication Date: June 30, 2014

Insights on Instability and Children's Development: Commentaries from Practitioners, Policymakers, and Researchers (Commentary)
Gina Adams

Concern is growing about the damage that instability can do to children's healthy development. However it has emerged separately across different domains, with little focus on the pervasive and interconnected nature of the issue or on possible cross-cutting policy solutions. In November 2013, the Urban Institute convened policymakers, practitioners, and researchers to discuss the implications of instability for children's development, as well as what we know, need to learn, and need to do across research, policy, and practice. This paper contains essays from some of the meeting participants; a companion report includes the insights from the conference.

Posted to Web: July 22, 2014Publication Date: July 22, 2014

Exploring Instability and Children's Well-Being: Insights from a Dialogue among Practitioners, Policymakers and Researchers (Research Report)
Gina Adams, Lisa Dubay

Concern is growing about the damage that instability can do to children's healthy development. However it has emerged separately across different domains, with little focus on the pervasive and interconnected nature of the issue or on possible cross-cutting policy solutions. This report presents the insights gleaned from a November 2013 convening of policymakers, practitioners, and researchers about the implications of stability and instability for children's development, as well as what we know, what we need to learn, and what we need to do across research, policy, and practice. A companion report includes essays from some of the meeting participants.

Posted to Web: July 22, 2014Publication Date: July 22, 2014

Randomized Controlled Trials and Financial Capability: Why, When, and How (Research Brief)
Brett Theodos, Margaret Simms, Rachel Brash, Claudia Ayanna Sharygin, Dina Emam

Financial capability programs have proliferated in recent years, but rigorous research into which programs and methods are effective has not kept pace. Practitioners, policymakers, and funders are increasingly calling for rigorous financial capability research, including randomized controlled trial studies (RCTs), which can produce the highest standard of evidence. In April 2013, the Urban Institute and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau hosted a roundtable on the benefits and challenges of financial capability RCTs. The group agreed that RCTs are most suitable for well-established and scalable programs. Frontline staff should be fully invested in the study and involved in designing implementation and data-collection strategies.

Posted to Web: June 30, 2014Publication Date: June 30, 2014

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