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A study by researchers at the University of Limerick using the 'Growing Up in Ireland' data has found that the apparent benefits of marriage, in relation to child development, are not related to marriage per se but to the background characteristics of the parents.
This is the key finding to emerge from the most detailed statistical study to-date of the effects of family structure on child development, which was published in Dublin by the Family Support Agency.
Growing Up in a One-Parent Family, funded by the Family Support Agency through the Irish Research Council and produced by researchers from the University of Limerick, describes the effects of growing up in various family types on children's development. The research employs statistical techniques not previously applied to the study of the effects of family structure on child outcomes in Ireland and provides a detailed picture of differences in the socio-economic background of families.
One significant finding of the study indicates that, children from one-parent families and cohabiting families, fare similarly in most regards, to children from married families, when faced with similarly adverse conditions growing up.
Launching the report, the Chairperson Designate of the new Child and Family Agency, Ms Norah Gibbons said;
"This is the most detailed statistical study to-date of the effects of family structure on child development and is the latest of a series of studies funded by the Family Support Agency providing us with crucial information on family structures in Ireland that will benefit future generations."
Speaking from the launch of the report UL's Dr Carmel Hannan, lead researcher, said
"The report's findings are significant for current policy which provides supports for parents based on their family circumstances, rather than on the factors which directly influence child wellbeing. Marriage is not the answer to child disadvantage rather better educated and better resourced parents make for better educated, healthier and happier children".
Growing up in a One-Parent Family: The Influence of Family Structure on Child Outcomes, by Dr Carmel Hannan, Dr Brendan Halpin and Carol Coleman (UL) is a publication of the Family Support Agency (FSA). It will be published online on the FSA website on Friday 20th December 2013.
University of Limerick
Article adapted by Medical News Today from original press release. Click 'references' tab above for source.
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University of Limerick. "Marriage is not the answer to child disadvantage - UL study." Medical News Today. MediLexicon, Intl., 23 Dec. 2013. Web.
10 Mar. 2014. <http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/270484>
University of Limerick. (2013, December 23). "Marriage is not the answer to child disadvantage - UL study." Medical News Today. Retrieved from
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