Children, Family Size Change, and Household Wealth Trajectories

Matthew A Painter II, Ohio State University
Kevin M. Shafer, Ohio State University

Wealth inequality continues to play an increasingly important role in the overall American stratification picture. Previous research tends to examine early childhood and adolescent processes that influence adult wealth accumulation to the exclusion of influential adult life course effects. One important aspect of adulthood is having children and the transition to parenthood, which can affect numerous outcomes, including wealth trajectories. Using the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, 1979 cohort (NLSY79), and latent-growth curve modeling techniques, we look at the direct effect of family size on wealth and at potential family-size threshold effects in wealth accumulation. Furthermore, we assess racial and ethnic differences between Whites, Blacks, and Hispanics in the effect of family size on wealth. Finally, we disaggregate net worth into its two component parts, financial and non-fungible wealth in order to evaluate the effect of family size and family change on each resource pool.

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Presented in Session 112: Intergenerational Transmission of Wealth and Educational Inequality