Fenaba R. Addo

Associate Professor of Public Policy, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

About Fenaba

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.


How Filing for Legal Bankruptcy Affects Women's Health

In the News

Quoted by Jillian Berman in "The Black-White Wealth Gap is Fueled by Student Debt," Market Watch, May 4, 2018.
Quoted by Caroline Kitchener in "Why More Young Married Couples are Keeping Separate Bank Accounts," Hot Air, April 21, 2018.
Quoted by Gail Marks Jarvis in "St. Louis Fed Study Questions College as the Great Race Equalizer," Reuters, April 18, 2018.
Quoted by Jill Berman in "We Know Student Debt is Delaying Marriage — but Why?,", December 4, 2016.
Research discussed by Molly Hensley-Clancy, in "Why Even Wealthy Black Students Have More Student Loan Debt," BuzzFeed News, March 14, 2016.
Research discussed by Martha White, in "Even Well-Off Black Students Carry More Loan Debt: Study," NBC News, March 12, 2016.
Quoted by Scott Jaschik in "New Study of Black-White Gap in Student Loan Debt?,", March 9, 2016.
Quoted by Helanie Olen in "Student Loan Debt and Wedding Bell Blues," Forbes Magazine, February 19, 2013.


"Young, Black, and (Still) In the Red: Parental Wealth, Race, and Student Loan Debt" (with Jason Houle and Daniel Simon). Race and Social Problems 8, no. 1 (2017): 64-76.

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.

"Seeking Relief? Bankruptcy and Health Outcomes of Adult Women" Social Science & Medicine: Population Health 3 (2017): 326-334.

 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.

"Financial Integration and Relationship Transitions of Young Adult Cohabiters" Journal of Family and Economic Issues 38, no. 1 (2017): 84-99.

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.

"Marriage, Marital History, and Black-White Wealth Differentials among Older Women" Journal of Marriage and Family 75, no. 2 (2015): 342-362.

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.

"Debt, Cohabitation, and Marriage in Young Adulthood" Demography 51 (2014): 1688-1701.

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.