Snapshots of America’s Families II

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The Urban Institute

Between 1997 and 1999, the proportion of U.S. children with highly aggravated ("frustrated and stressed") parents increased, says the second Snapshots report (the first was released in 1997) by Assessing the New Federalism, an Urban Institute program to assess changing social policies. Based on the 1999 National Survey of America's Families (NSAF), which included information on over 73,000 adults under 65 and more than 36,000 children in 42,000 families, the report focuses on four areas: economic security, health and health care, children's well-being and family environments.

The strength of the American economy has meant more financial security among most adults in the U.S., a reduced poverty rate, more work among single parents, and more families saying they were able to afford food. The report also shows a decline in the number of children in single-parent households - reflecting an increase both in the number of children living with two parents and in the number of children not living with any biological or formally adoptive parent.

The report points out a number of areas in which the economy seems to have had no impact: Between 1997 and 1999, there was no reduction in the percentage of children without health insurance (with SCHIP gains offset by losses due to welfare eligibility changes) and no improvements in families' ability to afford housing. Also, indicators of family environment (such as parents reading to children, taking them on outings and expressing frustration) and child well-being (such as behavioral and emotional problems and school-related behaviors) were unchanged. 56 pages. Free. The Urban Institute, 2100 M St., NW, Washington, DC 20037. (202) 261-5709. E-mail: