Data Sharing for Demographic Research

This study was originally processed, archived, and disseminated by Data Sharing for Demographic Research (DSDR), a project funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD).

Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study [Public Use Data] (ICPSR 31622)

Principal Investigator(s): Brooks-Gunn, Jeanne, Columbia University; Garfinkel, Irwin, Columbia University; McLanahan, Sara S., Princeton University; Paxson, Christina, Princeton University


The Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study follows a cohort of new parents and their children and provides previously unavailable information about the conditions and capabilities of new unwed parents and the well-being of their children. Mothers and fathers were interviewed in the hospital shortly after the birth of their children. The baseline questionnaires for mothers and fathers include information on (1) prenatal care, (2) mother-father relationships, (3) expectations about fathers' rights and responsibilities, (4) attitudes toward marriage, (5) parents' health, (6) social support and extended kin, (7) knowledge about local policies and community resources, and (8) education, employment, and income. Follow-up interviews gather additional information including (1) access to and use of healthcare and childcare services, (2) experiences with local welfare and child support agencies, (3) parental conflict and domestic violence, and (4) child health and well-being.

The first four waves of this study (1997-2003) have been archived and are available for download at ICPSR-DSDR. Nine-Year Follow Up (Wave 5) data can be found through the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study page on Princeton's website.

Access Notes


This study is currently not available. Please check periodically to see if the status has changed.

Study Description


Brooks-Gunn, Jeanne, Irwin Garfinkel, Sara S. McLanahan, and Christina Paxson. Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study [Public Use Data]. ICPSR31622-v1. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2011-12-06.

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Export Citation:

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  • EndNote XML (EndNote X4.0.1 or higher)


This study was funded by:

  • Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (043407)
  • United States Department of Health and Human Services. National Institutes of Health. Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (R01HD036916)

Scope of Study

Subject Terms:    child care, child health, child rearing, child welfare, children, demographic characteristics, domestic responsibilities, families, family relationships, fathers, marital status, marriage, parents, unwed mothers

Smallest Geographic Unit:    city

Geographic Coverage:    Austin, Baltimore, Birmingham, Boston, California, Chicago, Corpus Christi, Detroit, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Milwaukee, Nashville, New Jersey, New York (state), New York City, Newark, Norfolk, Oakland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Richmond, San Antonio, San Jose, Santa Ana, Tennessee, Texas, Toledo, United States, Virginia, Wisconsin

Time Period:   

  • 1997--2003

Date of Collection:   

  • 1997--2003

Unit of Observation:    individual

Data Type(s):    observational data, survey data

Data Collection Notes:

Additional publications using the Fragile Families data can be found on the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study Web site.


Sample:    This national study uses a stratified random sample of all United States cities with 200,000 or more people. The stratification was not geographic; rather, it was according to policy environments and labor market conditions in the different cities. The sampling occurred in three stages: First cities, second, hospitals within cities, and third, births within hospitals. The total sample size is 4,700 families, made up of 3,600 unwed couples and 1,100 married couples. The data is representative of non-marital births in each of 20 cities, and is also representative of non-marital births in United States cities with populations over 200,000. Follow-up interviews with both parents take place when the child is 12, 30, and 48 months old. Data on child health and development is collected from the parents during each of the follow-up interviews, and in-home assessments of child well-being are carried out at 30 and 48 months.

Time Method:    Longitudinal: Cohort/ Event-based

Weight:    A fully-documented weight file is included with the data.

Mode of Data Collection:    coded on-site observation, cognitive assessment test, face-to-face interview

Response Rates:    Response rates were: 90 percent of mothers, 75 percent of fathers.

Presence of Common Scales:    PPVT/TVIP, Walk-A-Line, Q-Sort, Woodcock-Johnson Letter-Word Recognition Test, Attention Sustained Task

Extent of Processing:   ICPSR data undergo a confidentiality review and are altered when necessary to limit the risk of disclosure. ICPSR also routinely creates ready-to-go data files along with setups in the major statistical software formats as well as standard codebooks to accompany the data. In addition to these procedures, ICPSR performed the following processing steps for this data collection:

  • Standardized missing values.


Original ICPSR Release:   2011-11-28

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