Poverty and InequalitySexual and Reproductive HealthFamily, Maternal & Child HealthMethodology

The Relationship Contexts of Young Disadvantaged Men

TitleThe Relationship Contexts of Young Disadvantaged Men
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsTach, L, Edin, K
JournalAnnals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science
ISBN Number00027162 (ISSN)
Keywordsfamily instability, Fatherhood, Nonmarital childbearing, Poverty, relationship quality

Recent improvements in data collection offer unprecedented insight into the romantic partnerships of disadvantaged men, revealing higher levels of instability, complexity, and commitment than previously understood. Young disadvantaged men are often involved in casual romantic relationships that result in pregnancy. When this occurs, most men remain involved with the mother, are optimistic about the future of their relationships, and are committed to their children. Economic disadvantage, incarceration, conflict, and mistrust undermine the stability of these relationships, however, and most end within several years after the birth. New romantic relationships begin shortly thereafter, creating complex family structures. We know less about the patterns of interaction between couples that produce unstable partnerships or about the nature of romantic relationships that do not involve children. With our growing understanding of the presence of fathers in nonmarital households, policy-makers must adapt their policies to support, rather than undermine, these fragile unions.