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Fathers and Youth's Delinquent Behavior

  • Deborah Cobb-Clark


    (Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne; and Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA))

  • Erdal Tekin

    (Department of Economics, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University; Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA); and National Bureau of Economic Research)

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 Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne in its series Melbourne Institute Working Paper Series with number wp2011n23.

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Length: 51 pages
Date of creation: Oct 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iae:iaewps:wp2011n23
Contact details of provider: Postal: Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne, Victoria 3010 Australia
Phone: +61 3 8344 2100
Fax: +61 3 8344 2111
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  1. Aizer, Anna, 2004. "Home alone: supervision after school and child behavior," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(9-10), pages 1835-1848, August.
  2. Resul Cesur & Joseph J. Sabia & Erdal Tekin, 2011. "The Psychological Costs of War: Military Combat and Mental Health," NBER Working Papers 16927, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Heather Antecol & Kelly Bedard, 2007. "Does single parenthood increase the probability of teenage promiscuity, substance use, and crime?," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 20(1), pages 55-71, February.
  4. Ariel Kalil & Magne Mogstad & Mari Rege & Mark Votruba, 2011. "Divorced Fathers’ Proximity and Children’s Long-Run Outcomes: Evidence From Norwegian Registry Data," Demography, Springer, vol. 48(3), pages 1005-1027, August.
  5. Cobb-Clark, Deborah A. & Schurer, Stefanie, 2012. "The stability of big-five personality traits," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 115(1), pages 11-15.
  6. Okumura, Tsunao & Usui, Emiko, 2010. "Do Parents' Social Skills Influence Their Children's Sociability?," IZA Discussion Papers 5324, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  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.
  8. Kathleen Harris & Frank Furstenberg & Jeremy Marmer, 1998. "Paternal involvement with adolescents in intact families: The influence of fathers over the life course," Demography, Springer, vol. 35(2), pages 201-216, May.
  9. Shelly Lundberg, 2005. "Sons, Daughters, and Parental Behaviour," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 21(3), pages 340-356, Autumn.
  10. Karen Conway & Minghua Li, 2012. "Family structure and child outcomes: a high definition, wide angle “snapshot”," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 10(3), pages 345-374, September.
  11. 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, vol. 7(2), pages 319-349.
  12. Larry Bumpass & R. Raley & James Sweet, 1995. "The changing character of stepfamilies: implications of cohabitation and nonmarital childbearing," Demography, Springer, vol. 32(3), pages 425-436, August.
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  15. repec:oup:restud:v:75:y:2008:i:4:p:1085-1120 is not listed on IDEAS
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  17. Heather Antecol & Kelly Bedard, 2002. "Does Single Parenthood Increase the Probability of Teenage Promiscuity, Drug Use and Crime?," Claremont Colleges Working Papers 2002-23, Claremont Colleges.
  18. 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 200722, Geary Institute, University College Dublin.
  19. repec:ese:iserwp:2006-14 is not listed on IDEAS
  20. Sandra Hofferth, 2006. "Residential father family type and child well-being: Investment versus selection," Demography, Springer, vol. 43(1), pages 53-77, February.
  21. John Ermisch, 2008. "Child support and non-resident fathers’ contact with their children," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 21(4), pages 827-853, October.
  22. Daniela Del Boca & Rocio Ribero, 2003. "Visitations and Transfers After Divorce," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 1(3), pages 187-204, September.
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  24. Mocan, H Naci & Tekin, Erdal, 2006. "Guns and Juvenile Crime," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 49(2), pages 507-31, October.
  25. Gary Painter & David I. Levine, 2004. "Daddies, Devotion, and Dollars," American Journal of Economics and Sociology, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 63(4), pages 813-850, October.
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