Effects of Paternal Presence and Family Stability on Child Cognitive Performance
This study uses data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (FFCWS) to examine the effects of a father?s presence on the cognitive performance of his pre-school aged child. Cognitive performance is measured by the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (PPVT), a well-known indicator of cognitive ability and academic readiness for young children. Like previous studies, the richness of the data is exploited by including numerous covariates in the OLS regression model. In addition, the study also employs a Proxy Variable-OLS Solution to dealing with the problem of omitted variable bias. Subsequently, causal inferences can be made from the empirical findings. The study finds two distinct effects of paternal presence based on whether the child belongs to a stable versus disruptive family structure. The empirical results indicate that cognitive outcomes are statistically similar for children in stable single-parent and stable two-parent family households. However, disruptive family structures, characterized by a father?s partial presence in the home, are shown to have deleterious effects on cognitive performance compared to a stable single-parent family structure where the father has never even been present. One profound implication of these findings is the importance of family stability above family structure in producing positive child outcomes. Moreover, there is suggestive evidence that the effect of disruptive paternal presence is significantly larger for girls than for boys.
|Date of creation:||Mar 2008|
|Date of revision:|
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