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

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

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Additional information may be available in Collection Notes.

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

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The first four waves of this study (1997-2003) have been archived and are available for download at ICPSR-DSDR.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.

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)


1997 -- 2003

1997 -- 2003

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

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.

Longitudinal: Cohort / Event-based


observational data

survey data

coded on-site observation

cognitive assessment test

face-to-face interview

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

PPVT/TVIP, Walk-A-Line, Q-Sort, Woodcock-Johnson Letter-Word Recognition Test, Attention Sustained Task



2011-11-28 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.

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