Countervailing Consequences of Paternal Incarceration for Parenting Quality
AbstractTo date, research on the linkages between paternal incarceration and family life has taken two forms. On the one hand, quantitative research tends to consider effects on child wellbeing and generally concludes paternal incarceration harms children. Qualitative research, on the other hand, tends to consider how incarceration alters relationships between partners and suggests a nuanced combination of positive, negative, and null effects. In this paper, we attempt to rectify these seemingly disparate findings by considering the countervailing consequences of paternal incarceration for both fathers’ and mothers’ parenting. Using longitudinal data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study and an exceptionally rigorous research design, we find that recent paternal incarceration sharply diminishes the quality of biological fathers’ parenting, especially for residential fathers. Furthermore, virtually all of this association can be explained by changes in fathers’ relationships with their children’s mothers. Effects on mothers’ parenting, however, are more inconsistent, as recent paternal incarceration is not consistently associated with any measure of maternal parenting across all modeling strategies. Our findings also show that recent paternal incarceration sharply increases the probability a mother will repartner, potentially offsetting some losses in the involvement of the biological father. Taken together, the collateral consequences of paternal incarceration for family life are complex and countervailing.
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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 1377.
Date of creation: Mar 2012
Date of revision:
prison; mothers; incarceration; children; families; parents; fathers;
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- D19 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Other
- H31 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - Household
- I00 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - General - - - General
- J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
- J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure
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