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Paternal Incarceration and Father Involvement in Fragile Families

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  • Amanda Geller

    (Columbia University)

  • Irwin Garfinkel

    (Columbia University)

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    Abstract

    High rates of incarceration, coupled with high rates of fatherhood among men in prison, has motivated a far-reaching literature that examines the effects of paternal incarceration on family stability and child development. Although a growing body of evidence documents significant disadvantage among families with incarcerated fathers, far less is known about the causal nature of this relationship. Most notably, the majority of incarcerated fathers were living apart from their children at the time of their criminal justice contact, raising the question of whether incarceration incapacitates fathers from their children’s lives, or simply reinforces a pre-existing absence. In this paper, we use a population-based sample of urban families to examine the extent of father involvement among fathers with incarceration histories, including both fathers who become incarcerated and those incarcerated in the more distant past. While our findings are consistent with earlier work that documents the concentration of incarceration among nonresident fathers, we find that resident fathers who become incarcerated are significantly more likely to leave their family household upon release. Moreover, many nonresident fathers who become incarcerated had maintained a degree of contact with their children, which is compromised upon incarceration. Observed reductions in father-child contact are driven by a combination of incapacitation while in prison or jail, and a reduction in contact upon release.

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    File URL: http://crcw.princeton.edu/workingpapers/WP12-10-FF.pdf
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper 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 1391.

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    Date of creation: Apr 2012
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    Handle: RePEc:pri:crcwel:wp12-10-ff

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    Related research

    Keywords: Father Involvement; Parenting Stress; Relationship Status; Role Strain; prison; incarceration;

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    References

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    1. Christopher Wildeman, 2009. "Parental imprisonment, the prison boom, and the concentration of childhood disadvantage," Demography, Springer, vol. 46(2), pages 265-280, May.
    2. Lenna Nepomnyaschy, 2007. "Child support and father-child contact: Testing reciprocal pathways," Demography, Springer, vol. 44(1), pages 93-112, February.
    3. Reichman, Nancy E. & Teitler, Julien O. & Garfinkel, Irwin & McLanahan, Sara S., 2001. "Fragile Families: sample and design," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 23(4-5), pages 303-326.
    4. Patrick Royston, 2004. "Multiple imputation of missing values," Stata Journal, StataCorp LP, vol. 4(3), pages 227-241, September.
    5. Amanda Geller & Carey Cooper & Irwin Garfinkel & Ofira Schwartz-Soicher & Ronald Mincy, 2012. "Beyond Absenteeism: Father Incarceration and Child Development," Demography, Springer, vol. 49(1), pages 49-76, February.
    6. Amanda Geller & Irwin Garfinkel & Bruce Western, 2011. "Paternal Incarceration and Support for Children in Fragile Families," Demography, Springer, vol. 48(1), pages 25-47, February.
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