"If he didn't, we would try to reach him by phone." Over two-thirds of unmarried fathers were interviewed at the hospital.Important initial funding came from the Ford Foundation and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and major funding throughout the project has come from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and more than a dozen other foundations.

The study has gathered information on the children's physical and mental health, cognitive function, social-emotional skills, schooling and living conditions, as well as the makeup, stability and financial resources of their families.

Using that information and data on a control group of children born to married parents, the Fragile Families study has played a foundational role in helping researchers understand the capabilities and deficits of unmarried parents and the challenges faced by their children.

Tod Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs, director of Center for Research on Child Wellbeing, and principal investigator for the Fragile Families study.

"At the same time, over a third of these parents had not finished high school, and only 3 percent had a college degree.

Results of the research have painted a detailed — and worrisome — portrait of these unmarried parents and their children.

"Most of these unmarried parents wanted to marry and had 'high hopes' for a future together at the time of their child's birth," said Sara Mc Lanahan, the William S.

"We started off being interested in the father and what he could pay to support the child, but pretty soon we realized that the much more interesting and broader question was just how do these children who are born to unmarried parents do? "What began as a study of unmarried fathers morphed into a much more ambitious, longitudinal study of unmarried parents and their children." The first wave of data collection began in 1998 and took place in 75 hospitals in 20 cities across the country over two years. Researchers interviewed mothers of newborns in their hospital room, spending 35 to 45 minutes gathering a wide range of information about mother, father and the newborn.

The result was a nationally representative sample of children born in large U. "We'd say we'd like to interview the father, and we would wait to see if he came to visit the baby," Mc Lanahan said.

"The Fragile Families study has inspired numerous new scholars — in sociology, demography, economics, psychology and the biomedical sciences — to focus their research on child wellbeing," said Christina Paxson, president of Brown University, who was a principal investigator on the study during her time on the Princeton faculty.

"The investigators have not only made it a priority to make the data readily available.

"The study started with the innovative idea of enrolling new families in the study at the time of a child's birth.