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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
Web page: http://www.melbourneinstitute.com/Email:


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  1. 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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  7. 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.
  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.
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  18. repec:ese:iserwp:2006-14 is not listed on IDEAS
  19. Gordon B. Dahl & Enrico Moretti, 2004. "The Demand for Sons: Evidence from Divorce, Fertility, and Shotgun Marriage," NBER Working Papers 10281, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  25. Aizer, Anna, 2004. "Home alone: supervision after school and child behavior," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(9-10), pages 1835-1848, August.
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