About the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study

The Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (FFCWS) is based on a stratified, multistage sample of 4898 children born in large U.S. cities (population over 200,000) between 1998 and 2000, where births to unmarried mothers were oversampled by a ratio of 3 to 1. This sampling strategy resulted in the inclusion of a large number of Black, Hispanic, and low-income families. Mothers were interviewed shortly after birth and fathers were interviewed at the hospital or by phone. Follow-up interviews were conducted when children were approximately ages 1, 3, 5, 9, 15, and 22 (began late 2020). When weighted, the data are representative of births in large US cities.

Beginning with the baseline interviews in 1998-2000, the core study was originally designed to primarily address four questions of great interest to researchers and policy makers: (1) What are the conditions and capabilities of unmarried parents, especially fathers?; (2) What is the nature of the relationships between unmarried parents?; (3) How do children born into these families fare?; and (4) How do policies and environmental conditions affect families and children?

The Fragile Families & Child Wellbeing Study consists of a core survey with mothers, fathers, primary caregivers, and the focal child. Additionally, collaborative projects have enriched the core study by adding new questions to the surveys or by collecting new data on a subset of parents and children. See below for more details about the core and collaborative projects.

image of study timeline


Note: Click image to enlarge


FFCWS is a joint effort by Princeton University’s Center for Research on Child Wellbeing(CRCW) and the Columbia Population Research Center (CPRC).

The current Principal Investigators are Kathryn Edin at Princeton University and Jane Waldfogel at Columbia University. The Study founders were Sara McLanahan at Princeton University,  Irwin Garfinkel at Columbia University, and Ron Mincy at Columbia University. 

About the Core Study

Collaborative Projects