family structures study

The Family Structures Study and its accompanying research, provides the latest social science data about how children who were raised in different family types compare, as adults, on a variety of outcomes and measures. It primarily showcases data from the recently completed New Family Structures Study (NFSS), a comparative social science project led by Dr. Mark Regnerus of the Population Research Center of the University of Texas at Austin.

The NFSS drew a large, nationally representative, random sample of the U.S. population of young adults, ages 18–39, screening 15,000 persons and interviewing 2,988 respondents. These respondents were raised in diverse arrangements and categorized in a range of family structures, including step-parented, divorced, intact biological parented, adopted, and single-parented. The NFSS, though, is most noteworthy for being the second-largest probability sample of children of parents with gay or lesbian relationships.

Prior to the NFSS, the academy had come to believe that children raised by gay or lesbian parents fared, on average, no worse, and in some cases better, than children raised by heterosexual parents. Dr. Regnerus and a group of social scientists decided to evaluate this claim empirically by studying the responses of children who were raised in a variety of family structures. The goal of the NFSS, from the beginning, was to gather the best social science possible to address the question of what family arrangements were best for children. The results of the NFSS research revealed that the “no differences” claim—the claim that children raised by parents in gay or lesbian relationships fared no worse and in some cases better than children raised by intact biological parents—was not true. On the contrary, the children of these households, on average, did worse than children raised by their biological, still-married parents.

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