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Does Growing up with a Parent Absent Really Hurt?


  • Kevin Lang
  • Jay L. Zagorsky


It is widely recognized that children who grow up without a biological parent do worse, on average, than other children. However, because having a single parent is highly correlated with many other socioeconomic disadvantages, the negative outcomes might be caused by something beyond the parent's absence. Econometric tests using a variety of background controls and parental death as an exogenous cause of absence, show little evidence that a parent's presence during childhood affects economic well being in adulthood. The two exceptions are that living without a mother impacts girls' cognitive performance while having a father die lowers sons' chances of marriage.

Suggested Citation

  • Kevin Lang & Jay L. Zagorsky, 2001. "Does Growing up with a Parent Absent Really Hurt?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 36(2), pages 253-273.
  • Handle: RePEc:uwp:jhriss:v:36:y:2001:i:2:p:253-273

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    References listed on IDEAS

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