Multiple-Father Fertility and Arrest Rates
Across the United States, two phenomena have emerged: high rates of multi-partnered fertility (having children by more than one partner) and high rates of male involvement with the criminal justice system. This paper is a first step in an exploration of the possible connection between these two phenomena. The first part of the paper provides nationally representative estimates of the prevalence of multi-partnered fertility among mothers during the 1985-1996 period, for the overall population and for select subgroups. These estimates, based on the SIPP surveys, constitute a useful addition to the literature, which contains very few estimates of women's multi-partnered fertility or its evolution over time. In the second part of the paper, we combine MSA-level data on arrest rates (constructed from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports) with SIPP’s family structure data, in order to explore the association between the rate of multiple-father fertility and local arrest rates. Over time and across MSAs, we observe a positive correlation between the probability that a mother has had children by more than one man and the lagged arrest rate in her MSA. The correlation is stronger among racial and educational subgroups that experience higher rates of multiple-father fertility.
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