Spotlight on FFCWS and the Great Recession

May 12, 2016

The Future of Families and Child Wellbeing Study data are valuable for examinations of the effects of the Great Recession due to the timing of our follow-up waves (See “Data available” below for details). Recently, many researchers have approached the FFCWS data with a focus on the Great Recession and have studied its effects on a variety of family and child outcomes.

FFCWS PIs Irwin Garfinkel and Sara McLanahan, along with Christopher Wimer of Columbia University, are also the editors of a forthcoming book from the Russell Sage Foundation (RSF) which will exclusively explore issues of the Recession through analysis of FFCWS data. RSF also has released a series of reports on families in the Recession which can be found here.

Recent publications

Currie et al. used FFCWS data to investigate the impacts of the Great Recession on mothers’ health. The study incorporated a range of physical and mental health outcomes and health behaviors. They found that increases in unemployment decreased self-reported health status and increased smoking and drug use. Disadvantaged mothers based on race/ethnicity and/or education and marital status experienced greater negative effects in their health compared to advantaged mothers.

Gottlieb et al. used FFCWS data to study whether the unemployment rate was associated with private financial transfers (PFT) and whether family income moderated the associations. They found that poor and near-poor mothers had increases in PFT receipt when unemployment was high while mothers with higher incomes experienced decreases in PFT.

Daniel Schneider et al. used FFCWS data and U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data on local area unemployment rates to examine the relationship between adverse labor market conditions and mothers’ experiences of abusive behavior between 2001 and 2010. They found that unemployment and household economic hardship were positively related to abusive behaviors. Not only did actual unemployment and hardship have an effect on abuse, but also the uncertainty and anticipatory anxiety associated with the Recession had negative effects on relationship quality, independent of the effects of job loss and material hardship.

William Schneider et al. used FFCWS data and data from the national Consumer Sentiment Index (CSI) to investigate associations between the Great Recession and 9-year olds’ problem behaviors including externalizing behaviors, internalizing behaviors, alcohol and drug use, and vandalism. They found that greater uncertainty as measured by the CSI was associated with higher rates of all 4 behavior problems for boys, but not for girls. Local unemployment rates, in contrast, had fewer associations with children’s behavior.


Data available

Baseline data were collected from 1998-2000. Follow-up waves include Year 1 (1999-2002), Year 3 (2001-2003), Year 5 (2003-2006), and Year 9 (2007-2009). Contract data files covering geographic data, contextual characteristics, and labor market and macroeconomic data may also aid research on Recession effects.



Janet Currie, Valentina Duque, Irwin Garfinkel. 2015. “The Great Recession and Mothers' Health.” The Economic Journal. 125(588): F311-F346.

Aaron Gottlieb, Natasha Pilkauskas, Irwin Garfinkel. 2014. “Private Financial Transfers, Family Income, and the Great Recession.” Journal of Marriage and Family. 76(5): 1011-1024.

Daniel Schneider, Kristen Harknett, Sara McLanahan. Forthcoming. “Intimate Partner Violence in the Great Recession.” Demography.

William Schneider, Jane Waldfogel, Jeanne Brooks-Gunn. 2015. “The Great Recession and Behavior Problems in 9-Year Old Children.” Developmental Psychology. 51(11): 1615-1629.