Paternal Incarceration and Children’s Aggressive Behaviors: Evidence from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study
AbstractIncarceration diminishes the life-chances of adults, but little is known about how parental incarceration affects children. Effects on early childhood aggressive behaviors are especially significant because of connections between early childhood aggression and future criminality. Using data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, a longitudinal birth cohort study of children born in urban centers at the close of the 20th century, this paper considers the effects of paternal incarceration on children’s aggressive behaviors at age 5. Results show strong effects of paternal incarceration on aggressive behaviors for boys but not girls. Results also show that effects are concentrated among boys living with a father at the time of his incarceration. The use of various modeling strategies and alternate dependent and independent variables demonstrates the robustness of the finding – and shows that effects are largest on physically aggressive acts, precisely the acts most strongly connected with future criminal activity. By increasing boy’s aggression, paternal incarceration may promote the intergenerational transmission of crime and incarceration. In so doing, high levels of paternal incarceration could not only compromise public safety but also provide the groundwork for a permanently disadvantaged class for whom contact with the criminal justice system is normal.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Research on Child Wellbeing. in its series Working Papers with number 1014.
Date of creation: Jan 2008
Date of revision:
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2008-12-01 (All new papers)
- NEP-HAP-2008-12-01 (Economics of Happiness)
- NEP-HEA-2008-12-01 (Health Economics)
- NEP-URE-2008-12-01 (Urban & Real Estate Economics)
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