Fenaba R. Addo
Areas of Expertise & Civic Involvements
Addo's research agenda lies at the intersection of family economics and social demography. Previous work has explored (1) the role of education loans and credit card debt on early union formation; (2) racial differences in marriage and marital histories on wealth accumulation; and (3) family structure on women’s health and young adult health and educational attainment. She is currently working on projects that examine the economic and health outcomes of bankruptcy for women and children, racial wealth differences in student loan repayment and unintended fertility, and cross-national differences of cohabitation and marriage on family well being.
This work explores the consequences of recent changes in federal bankruptcy code that have made it much more difficult to file for consumer bankruptcy since 2005. Finds that poor health is an unintended consequence for women who seek financial relief through bankruptcy.
Examines how the normalization of cohabitation in young adulthood has influenced the sharing of debt and assets, such as investments in homeownership, which provide evidence of commitment and the prospect of long-term stability. Applying a classification system I created to assess levels of financial integration, I find that young adult cohabiters are intertwining credit histories and bank accounts, and acquiring assets such as purchasing homes together.
Shows that student loan debt is a potential contributor to intergenerational wealth disparities. We find that parental wealth does not appear to be as protective of student loan debt accumulation for millennial black young adults as compared with their white counterparts.
Women who married and stay married accumulated levels of wealth that exceeded those of other women with disrupted family lives. Racial differences in total wealth holdings between Black and White women exist throughout the wealth distribution, whereas the relationship between current union history and wealth differentials is significant at the lower tail and middle of the distribution.
One of the key findings was that young adult women with education loan debt were much more likely to remain single or transition to cohabitation rather than directly marry. Previous studies on the factors associated with marriage have generally found that it was mainly men’s economic attributes that matter for marriage. That women’s debt influenced transitions into both informal and formal unions, then, is key to understanding contemporary changes in family formation processes.