World Family Map Report 2013 by Child Trends

Child Trends—“a nonprofit, nonpartisan research center that studies children at every stage of development”—that seeks to ameliorate Child wellbeing and outcomes by providing research to individuals, organizations and institutions that create policies and make decisions affecting the lives of children around the world. In January, Child Trends released an inaugural report, “World Family Map Report 2013: Mapping Family Change and Child Well-being Outcomes,” which aims to examine patterns “the health of family life around the globe and to learn more about how family trends affect the well-being of children” in 45, high- and low-income countries from every region in the world. Sponsored by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Focus Global and the Social Trends Institute, the “World Family Map Report 2013”  analyzes family structures and the “strengths and challenges” they provide in relationship to “educational outcomes for children and youth.” Co-primary investigators, Laura H. Lippman (Senior Program Area Director & Senior Research Scientist at Child Trends) and  W. Bradford Wilcox (director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia) summarize the report’s key findings below:

Children’s lives are influenced by the number of parents and siblings that they live with, as well as by whether their parents are married. The World Family Map reports these key indicators of family structure in this section.

  • Although two-parent families are becoming less common in many parts of the world, they still constitute a majority of families around the globe. Children under age 18 are more likely to live in two-parent families than in other family forms in asia and the middle east, compared with other regions of the world. Children are more likely to live with one or no parent in the americas, europe, oceania, and sub-saharan africa than in other regions.
  • Extended families (which include parent(s) and kin from outside the nuclear family) also appear to be common in asia, the middle east, south america, and sub-saharan africa, but not in other regions of the world.
  • Marriage rates are declining in many regions. adults are most likely to be married in africa, asia, and the middle east, and are least likely to be married in south america, with europe, north america, and oceania falling in between. Cohabitation (living together without marriage) is more common among couples in europe, north america, oceania, and—especially—in south america.
  • Childbearing rates are declining worldwide. The highest fertility rates are in sub-saharan africa. a woman gives birth to an average of 5.5 children in nigeria—down from close to seven in the 1980s, but still high by world standards. moderate rates of fertility (2.3-3.1) are found in the middle east, and levels of fertility that are sufficient to replace a country’s population in the next generation (about 2.1) are found in the americas and oceania. Below replacement-level fertility is found in east asia and europe.
  • Given the decline in marriage rates, childbearing outside of marriage—or nonmarital childbearing—is increasing in many regions. The highest rates of nonmarital childbearing are found in south america and europe, paralleling increases in cohabitation, with moderate rates found in north america and oceania, varied rates found in sub-saharan africa, and the lowest rates found in asia and the middle east.

* You can also read W. Bradford Wilcox’s editorial, “The Parent Trap: Do two-parent families help children get ahead in life? The surprising answer: not everywhere,” available on Foreign Policy‘s website.

* Learn more about the research Child Trends does by examining their newsletters, including their Winter 2013 newsletter, “The Child Indicator.”


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