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Fathers and Youth's Delinquent Behavior

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  • Deborah A. Cobb-Clark
  • Erdal Tekin

Abstract

This paper analyzes the relationship between having one or more father figures and the likelihood that young people engage in delinquent criminal behavior. We pay particular attention to distinguishing the roles of residential and non-residential, biological fathers as well as stepfathers. Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, we find that adolescent boys engage in more delinquent behavior if there is no father figure in their lives. However, adolescent girls' behavior is largely independent of the presence (or absence) of their fathers. The strong effect of family structure is not explained by the lack of paternal involvement that generally comes with fathers’ absence, even though adolescents, especially boys, who spend time doing things with their fathers usually have better outcomes. There is also a link between adult delinquent behavior and adolescent family structure that cannot be explained by fathers' involvement with their adolescent sons and is only partially explained by fathers' involvement with their adolescent daughters. Finally, the strong link between adolescent family structure and delinquent behavior is not accounted for by the income differentials associated with fathers' absence. Our results suggest that the presence of a father figure during adolescence is likely to have protective effects, particularly for males, in both adolescence and young adulthood.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 17507.

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Date of creation: Oct 2011
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Publication status: published as “Fathers and Youth’s Delinquent Behavior,” with Deborah Cobb-Clark. NBER Working Paper No. 17507. Forthcoming in Review of Economics of the Household. DOI: 10.1007/s11150-013-9194-9.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17507

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  1. Ariel Kalil & Magne Mogstad & Mari Rege & Mark Votruba, 2009. "Divorced Fathers’ Proximity and Children’s Long Run Outcomes. Evidence from Norwegian Registry Data," Discussion Papers, Research Department of Statistics Norway 589, Research Department of Statistics Norway.
  2. Gordon B. Dahl & Enrico Moretti, 2008. "The Demand for Sons," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 75(4), pages 1085-1120.
  3. H. Naci Mocan & Daniel I. Rees, 2005. "Economic Conditions, Deterrence and Juvenile Crime: Evidence from Micro Data," American Law and Economics Review, Oxford University Press, Oxford University Press, vol. 7(2), pages 319-349.
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  6. Ian Walker & Yu Zhu, 2007. "Do Dads matter? Or is it just their money that matters? Unpicking the effects of separation on educational outcomes by and," Working Papers, Geary Institute, University College Dublin 200722, Geary Institute, University College Dublin.
  7. H. Naci Mocan & Erdal Tekin, 2003. "Guns, Drugs and Juvenile Crime: Evidence from a Panel of Siblings and Twins," NBER Working Papers 9824, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  11. Cesur, Resul & Sabia, Joseph J. & Tekin, Erdal, 2013. "The psychological costs of war: Military combat and mental health," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 51-65.
  12. Cobb-Clark, Deborah A. & Schurer, Stefanie, 2011. "The Stability of Big-Five Personality Traits," IZA Discussion Papers 5943, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  13. Mocan, H Naci & Tekin, Erdal, 2006. "Guns and Juvenile Crime," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 49(2), pages 507-31, October.
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  17. John Ermisch, 2008. "Child support and non-resident fathers’ contact with their children," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, Springer, vol. 21(4), pages 827-853, October.
  18. Daniela Del Boca & Rocio Ribero, 2003. "Visitations and Transfers After Divorce," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, Springer, vol. 1(3), pages 187-204, September.
  19. Karen Conway & Minghua Li, 2012. "Family structure and child outcomes: a high definition, wide angle “snapshot”," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, Springer, vol. 10(3), pages 345-374, September.
  20. Aizer, Anna, 2004. "Home alone: supervision after school and child behavior," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 88(9-10), pages 1835-1848, August.
  21. Okumura, Tsunao & Usui, Emiko, 2010. "Do Parents' Social Skills Influence Their Children's Sociability?," PIE/CIS Discussion Paper, Center for Intergenerational Studies, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University 466, Center for Intergenerational Studies, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
  22. Gary S. Becker, 1968. "Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 76, pages 169.
  23. Kathleen Harris & Frank Furstenberg & Jeremy Marmer, 1998. "Paternal involvement with adolescents in intact families: The influence of fathers over the life course," Demography, Springer, Springer, vol. 35(2), pages 201-216, May.
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Cited by:
  1. Doris, Aedin & O'Neill, Donal & Sweetman, Olive, 2012. "Gender, Single-Sex Schooling and Maths Achievement," IZA Discussion Papers 6917, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Sundström, Marianne, 2013. "Growing up in a blended family or a stepfamily: What is the impact on education?," Working Paper Series, Swedish Institute for Social Research 2/2013, Swedish Institute for Social Research.
  3. Sarah Grace See, 2013. "The Riskiest of Them All: Parental Supervision and Adolescent Behaviors," CHILD Working Papers Series, Centre for Household, Income, Labour and Demographic Economics (CHILD) - CCA 21, Centre for Household, Income, Labour and Demographic Economics (CHILD) - CCA.
  4. Anderson, D. Mark & Cesur, Resul & Tekin, Erdal, 2012. "Youth Depression and Future Criminal Behavior," IZA Discussion Papers 6577, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

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