In this paper, we utilize mothers’ reports in the NLSY to examine the level and stability of children’s involvement with unwed fathers during the first few years after birth. We find surprisingly high levels of involvement and stability of fathers’ involvement among these children. Our findings raise a whole host of questions about the characteristics and capabilities of the unwed fathers and the nature of the relationships between the unwed parents that cannot be addressed with the NLSY data. In the second part of the paper we describe a new longitudinal study of unwed parents – Fragile Families – and present a brief description of some of the findings from two pilot studies in Philadelphia and Chicago and from initial data collection in Oakland.
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