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Catherine Haggerty Kate Bachtell Nola du Toit Ned English Housing Composition and Child Wellbeing: Constructing Narratives to Inform a Research Agenda.

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Presentation on theme: "Catherine Haggerty Kate Bachtell Nola du Toit Ned English Housing Composition and Child Wellbeing: Constructing Narratives to Inform a Research Agenda."— Presentation transcript:

1 Catherine Haggerty Kate Bachtell Nola du Toit Ned English Housing Composition and Child Wellbeing: Constructing Narratives to Inform a Research Agenda

2 2 Introduction to Session Long, ongoing process of discovery Using Making Connections Survey data Research interests Low income families Child wellbeing

3 3 Introduction to Session Outline of Session Overview of Making Connections Survey Brief presentation of previous findings Discuss current project Explore future research ideas

4 4 Making Connections Survey Annie E. Casey Foundation Evaluation of community initiatives Low income households 10 sites Longitudinal Baseline  Wave 2  Wave 3 

5 5 Making Connections Survey Information on variety of topics People in household, age, gender, employment Relationships to respondent and focal child Children Economic wellbeing Services and amenities Family hardship Neighborhood connections Linking individuals over time

6 6 Current Literature Household structure and wellbeing of children Economic measures (poverty, material hardship) Family structure matters for child wellbeing Single v. cohabiting v. married Instability matters for child wellbeing Union formation or dissolution

7 7 Problems with Current Research Focus on parents and relationships of parents Ignores diversity of different family types Especially among low income households Does not depict reality of children’s lives Changes in household occupants; multitude of people coming and going

8 Example: Household 1 WAVE 1 WAVE 2

9 9 Example: Household 1 WAVE 2 WAVE 1

10 10 Our Previous Research Coming and Going: The Effect of Household Composition on the Economic Wellbeing of Families and Children

11 11 Previous Research: Research Questions Are there different types of household composition beyond the traditional? Do complex household compositions matter? Is there change in these complex household compositions over time? Does this change matter? Are some households more affected by change than others?

12 12 Previous Research Focus Variable: Household Type Relationship of adult (18+) to focus child Typology Single parents Two parents Parent and grandparent only Parent and any combination Non-parent households

13 13 Previous Research Dependent Variables: Economic Measures Income Per Capita Household income/number of people in household (log)‏ Public Assistance Usage (none/any)‏ Food stamps, rent subsidies, section 8, public housing Economic hardship (none/any)‏ No money for food, not pay rent, phone cut off, not fill prescriptions Home Ownership (not own/own)‏ Owned by someone in household

14 14 Previous Research Dependent Variables: Instability Change in household type e.g. Two parent -> parent and grandparent only Decrease in income per capita Same or less than at Wave 2 Increase in public assistance usage Increase in economic hardship Decrease in home ownership

15 15 Previous Research: Findings Are there different types of household composition beyond the traditional? Do complex household compositions matter? Is there change in these complex household compositions over time? Does this change matter? Are some households more affected by change than others?

16 16 Previous Research: Findings Are there different types of household composition beyond the traditional? YES! Do complex household compositions matter? YES! Is there change in these complex household compositions over time? YES! Does this change matter? YES! Are some households more affected by change than others? YES!

17 17 TYPES OF RELATIONSHIP OF ADULTS TO CHILDREN UNWEIGHTED FREQUENCY WEIGHTED % Total % Husband/wife1<1% Parent180090% Extended family19412% Sibling21212% Grandparent33322% Non-related119 6% Previous Research: Findings

18 18 Previous Research: Findings TYPES OF HOUSEHOLDS AT WAVE 2 UNWEIGHTED FREQUENCY WEIGHTED % Total % Single parents only53521% Two parents only65234% Parent and grandparent only16610% Parent and any other combination44725% Non-parent households16410%

19 19 Previous Research: Findings

20 20 Previous Research: Findings

21 21 Previous Research: Findings

22 22 Summary of Previous Research Findings Many more types of households than accounted for in current research 10% are non-parent households Many people coming and going Mixed results – no pattern Introduction of another adult for single parent households is not a good idea Need more research on non-traditional households

23 23 Previous Research: Limitations Examined only economic measures Need in-depth look at different types of families Typologies of families too narrow

24 24 Our Current Research Housing Composition and Child Wellbeing: Constructing Narratives to Inform a Research Agenda

25 25 Current Study Case studies of randomly selected households Provide in-depth understanding Acknowledge “messiness” of real lives

26 26 Research Questions What are the characteristics of these households? How much instability is really present? What are the moving parts? What is gained or lost by having additional people in the home?

27 27 Data for this Research 3 waves of data 6 sites Household adult and child roster, linked personal identifiers, household and child data Limited set of comments and open-ended responses Iterative process Sample selection Same respondent in all 3 waves Same focal child in Waves 2 and 3 Determination of household type required n=230

28 28 Selection for Narratives Typologies at Wave 2 1.Single parent 2.Two parent only (contrast group) 3.Extended family (vertical and horizontal) 4.Non-parent families Random sample of 15 for each typology Non-parent only had 15 cases n=60

29 29 Focus Area: Family Instability Family instability and disruption People coming and going Adults Children Relationships to the focal child Child welfare Anyone in home been in prison

30 30 Focus Area: Family Hardship Income and change in income Employment and ratio of employed adults to number of people Economic hardship Trouble paying bills, no money for food, delaying/not filling prescriptions, phone cut off Home ownership, renting, etc.

31 31 Focus Area: Public Assistance Public assistance Food stamps Housing Income from assistance

32 32 Focus Area: Social Integration Formal Speak to religious leader, politician, or neighbors about neighborhood problem; volunteer in community or serve on local committee Informal Attend local religious services or neighborhood get-togethers; get non-financial help from friends/family in neighborhood Services and amenities Use library, recreational center, counseling services, park, community college Social network outside of neighborhood Send remittances, get non-financial help from family and friends outside neighborhood

33 33 Focus Area: Neighborhood Reasons for moving from past and to current address Disorder Graffiti, drugs dealers, prostitution, litter, etc. Safety Neighborhood is good for raising children Feel safe at night, crime committed by outsiders, etc. Social Cohesion Neighbors can be trusted, share same values, willing to help others, etc.

34 34 Narrative Process: Why By reducing individuals to a set of social variables, “Social actors are treated as if they had little or no individual history, no feelings or ambivalences, no self- knowledge – in short, no individuality.” Maynes et al (2008, 16)

35 35 Narrative Process: How 1.Examined data for each household over time 2.Developed worksheet Focus on 7 areas of interest: family stability, family disruption, social support, public assistance, family hardship, family economics, attitudes about neighborhood 3.Constructed narrative for each household 4.Reviewed narratives across household types

36 36 Insert Presentation Title and Any Confidentiality Information Worksheet

37 37 Narrative Example , Des Moines, Hispanic (“South American”), U.S.-born, Penacostal This is a female-headed household that got bigger over time. In wave 1 we found just the respondent, a single working mom, with one child, age 7. In wave 2 the respondent had become a grandmother and her adult daughter, age 24, had moved in. Both were employed. A new focal child was selected in wave 2, age 4, and that was the child of the adult daughter. The daughter also had a 6-year-old living in the household. This meant that the respondent had one child and two grandchildren living in the home. At wave 3 the children stayed the same, but another adult daughter came to live with them. She was 27 and the aunt of the focus child, now age 7. All the children are boys. The respondent has a GED. In wave 1 (when she was the only adult in the HH) she indicated that she had been with her employer for 3 years and that household income was between $10,000 and $14,999. She said that she did not have a checking account because “I deal with cash.” In waves 2 and 3 the household income stayed around $30,000 despite the addition of the two working adult daughters. The family received food stamps in waves 1 and 2 but not 3. They reported economic hardships in all three waves, with at least one instance in three of the four categories (prescriptions, monthly bills, food).

38 38 Limitations 1.Not representative of “typical” low income family in the U.S. 2.Relied mainly on fixed numerical data 3.Cannot answer “why” questions 4.Narratives are subjective

39 39 Managing Limitations Teamwork! Developed tools collaboratively Discussed findings (repeatedly) Forthcoming about holes in data Avoiding speculation Monitoring subjectivity

40 40 Findings: Two Parent Families Characteristics: Mostly non-Hispanic White or Black Two subgroups: No change in composition (9 out of 15) Change in composition (6 out of 15)

41 41 Findings: Two Parent Families No change (9 out of 15) Adults are consistently employed Know “most” of focal child’s friends Change (6 out of 15) 1 incoming grandparent, 2 outgoing husbands, 3 incoming misc. adults Incoming adults are employed Some know “most;” others know “some” of focal child’s friends

42 42 Findings: Two Parent Families Common themes in HH with change: Only adults changed. Children are stable Most incoming adults are employed In all two parent families: No public assistance No economic hardship No more or less socially engaged

43 43 Findings: Single Parent Families (cont’d.) Characteristics: All women Various racial/ethnic backgrounds and origins Four subgroups: Lost adults to become a single mom at W2 (4) Single mom at W1 and W2, but gained adults in W3 (2) Changes in all waves (1) No changes in household structure - single in all waves (8)

44 44 Findings: Single Parent Families (cont’d.) Common themes: Half experienced no household changes Few boyfriends or new babies Addition of adults associated with strain Loss of father not always economically bad Adult children can be helpful

45 45 Findings: Single Parent Families (cont’d.) Education matters Employment matters Other people affect integration of home

46 46 Findings: Extended Families Characteristics: Vertically extended – grandparent (9) Horizontally extended – aunt/uncle, unrelated, etc. (9) Immigrant (8) Mostly Hispanic/Latino (6) 2 subgroups: Single parents (6) Two parents (9)

47 47 Findings: Extended Families (cont’d.) Single parents (6) Reliance on grandmothers (5) Low incomes - $30,000 or less (4) Some family disruption and child health conditions (4) Two parents (9) Providing shelter at tough times Wider mix of grandparents, aunts/uncles, unrelated persons Homeowners (8) Sending remittances (5)

48 48 Findings: Extended Families Common themes: Lots of change in household composition (14) Majority changed once No clear chronological pattern

49 49 Findings: Non-Parent Families Characteristics: Typically grandparent(s) Subgroups: 2 grandparents (6) 1 grandparent (4) No grandparent (5)

50 50 Findings: Non-Parent Families Common themes: Grandparents not employed Receive some form of public assistance Experience economic hardship 2 grandparent households most stable Non-grandparent more unstable than grandparent groups

51 51 Conclusions Family instability and disruption Two-parent and two-grandparent families are most stable over time Single mothers also pretty stable in composition Mixed trajectories for the rest – no clear patterns Seems to be a condition, not a type Economic wellbeing, hardship, public assistance All these families are poor Assistance and hardship not consistently used and not tied to income

52 52 Conclusions (cont’d.) Social integration and social supports No clear patterns Attitude toward neighborhood Mixed feelings

53 53 Lessons Learned Quantitative data misses a lot of depth Need more comments, explanations to help understand responses Challenge social scientists to prepare interviewers to collect quantitative and qualitative data High value in constructing narratives from quantitative data from longitudinal surveys to inform questionnaire design

54 54 Future Research Focused analysis of comments about neighborhood “Schools are close, hospitals and stores. It’s just nice.” (Two parent) “I’ve had problems with my next door neighbors for years. They don’t work, [he’s] not the father of the sons. They are home all day drinking and taking drugs. They have other vagabonds there day and night.” (Extended) “I come from a poor country. This neighborhood suits my family. We are all of average income.” (Single parent) “There’s trouble. Not crime, but there’s kids down the block have loud parties …” (Single parent) “…People mind their own business.” (Non-parent)

55 55 Future Research (cont’d.) What should we add for future data collection? Psychological measures Custom-tailored questions for scientifically selected subgroups to help explain differences? In-depth interviews Future quantitative analysis Create more typologies? What would they be? Differences by race & origin?

56 Thank You! Cathy Haggerty: Kate Bachtell: Nola du Toit: Ned English:

57 57 References Elliott, Jane “The Narrative Potential of the British Birth Cohort Studies.” Qualitative Research 8: pp Maynes, Mary Jo, Jennifer L. Pierce, and Barbara Laslett Telling Stories: The Use of Personal Narratives in the Social Sciences and History. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.


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