Pathways into Single-Motherhood and Their Implications for Children’s Health and Education in Nicaragua

Mary Arends-Kuenning, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Heather Moylan, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

The intergenerational transmission of poverty occurs when parents are unable or unwilling to invest in their children’s education and health. This paper focuses on the role that the absence of biological fathers plays in the persistence of poverty in Nicaragua. We examine whether children who do not live with their biological fathers experience poorer educational and health outcomes than children who live with their biological fathers. Another question we explore is whether the pathways that mothers follow into single motherhood matter for children’s outcomes. To answer these questions, we use the Nicaraguan Demographic and Health Survey (ENDESA), using the women’s reported marital history to construct a family history for each of the women’s children. Educational outcomes include attendance, grade attainment, drop out, age at entry to school, and grade-for-age. Health outcomes include height-for-age, weight-for-age, birthweight, and incidence of illnesses such as diarrhea.

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Presented in Session 171: Families in International Perspective