Families in the Great Recession: Differences by Family Structure and Race/Ethnicity

Laurel Saricsany, Columbia Population Research Center
Publication Date:
Jan 2015
Project Programs:
The Social and Economic Effects of the Great Recession

While the impacts of the Great Recession on Americans' wealth is well understood, we know less about how the recession impacted home and car ownership among families with young children, particularly low- and moderate-income and Black and Hispanic families whose assets are likely to be fairly modest and thus more vulnerable to economic downturns.

In a recent paper, Columbia University's Valentina Duque, Natasha Pilkauskas, and Irwin Garkfinkel analyzed the association between the Great Recession and assets among families with children. Using data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (FFCWS), the authors investigated how the recession impacted home and car ownership (the two primary assets owned by low- and moderate-income families) and how this varied by family structure (married, cohabiting, and single parents) and race/ethnicity.

The study revealed two key findings: 1) The recession led to declines in home and car ownership among families of young children; and 2) More vulnerable groups—including single, cohabiting, Black, and Hispanic families—were most likely to feel these effects, with married or White mothers more likely to be protected from the recession's effects.


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