This paper will look at what type of family structure is most conducive to children’s educational attainment. It will focus on the racial/ethnic variability in family formations. For example, when compared to White families, Black families are less likely to marry and more likely to have nonmarital births. This racial variability is important as the Pew Research Centers find that only about 40% of Black households are headed by a married couple, with female-headed households accounting for 31% (Moslimani et al. 2023). The smallest household type within the Black community is male-headed households which account for 5%. Comparing the outcomes of children in each of these three types of family structures by race should elicit some interesting findings. White single motherhood peaked at 19.7% in 2012 compared to the peak of 54% for Black single mothers in 1991 using data from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

The purpose of the research is to see if two-parent family households produce the best outcomes for Black children. While traditional scholarship from the likes of Sara McLanahan, Gary Sandefur, Paul Amato, and Isabel Sawhill all indicate that regardless of race, two-parent households provide the best outcomes. However, new research from Harvard’s Christina Cross has argued that living apart from a biological parent is less impactful for racial and ethnic minorities as opposed to White children. This raises the question if both parents are necessary for minority children to be successful. This paper follows a two-part hypothesis. Firstly, I believe that two-parent households will produce the best result for respondents regardless of race. Secondly, I believe the intersection of race and gender will be the site for any significant differences in educational attainment and future income.

Type of Work

Thesis - Limited Access

Department or Program



Hamilton College


Bachelor of Arts

Date of Graduation


Faculty Advisor

Mahala Stewart

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.