Using the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (FFCWS) in Life Course Health Development Research
The Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (FFCWS) is a nationally representative birth cohort study of approximately 4900 children born in large US cities between 1998 and 2000. Nonmarital childbearing increased dramatically in the second half of the twentieth century, raising questions about the capabilities of unmarried parents, the nature of parental relationships, and their implications for child health development and wellbeing. The FFCWS has become a leading source of information about unmarried parents and their children and about child health development more generally. The study contains biological and social indicators of children's cognitive health development as well as social determinants of health and children's broader social environment. This rich measurement, coupled with a longitudinal design and multilevel structure, makes it an ideal resource for life course health development research. This chapter describes the demographic, scholarly, and policy context in which the FFCWS was designed, as well as technical details that will enable new users to use the study effectively. We include details of sampling, data availability, variable structure and content, as well as features of the data that enable it to be used in longitudinal research. Finally, the chapter provides information about resources that will be available in the future and institutional resources available for users of the data.