IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Countervailing Consequences of Paternal Incarceration for Parenting Quality

  • Kristin Turney

    (University of California, Irvine)

  • Christopher Wildeman

    (Yale University)

Registered author(s):

    To date, research on the linkages between paternal incarceration and family life has taken two forms. On the one hand, quantitative research tends to consider effects on child wellbeing and generally concludes paternal incarceration harms children. Qualitative research, on the other hand, tends to consider how incarceration alters relationships between partners and suggests a nuanced combination of positive, negative, and null effects. In this paper, we attempt to rectify these seemingly disparate findings by considering the countervailing consequences of paternal incarceration for both fathers’ and mothers’ parenting. Using longitudinal data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study and an exceptionally rigorous research design, we find that recent paternal incarceration sharply diminishes the quality of biological fathers’ parenting, especially for residential fathers. Furthermore, virtually all of this association can be explained by changes in fathers’ relationships with their children’s mothers. Effects on mothers’ parenting, however, are more inconsistent, as recent paternal incarceration is not consistently associated with any measure of maternal parenting across all modeling strategies. Our findings also show that recent paternal incarceration sharply increases the probability a mother will repartner, potentially offsetting some losses in the involvement of the biological father. Taken together, the collateral consequences of paternal incarceration for family life are complex and countervailing.

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Paper provided by Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Research on Child Wellbeing. in its series Working Papers with number 1377.

    in new window

    Date of creation: Mar 2012
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:pri:crcwel:wp12-06-ff
    Contact details of provider: Postal: Wallace Hall, Princeton NJ 08544-1013
    Phone: (609) 258-1456
    Fax: (609) 258-5974
    Web page:

    More information through EDIRC

    No references listed on IDEAS
    You can help add them by filling out this form.

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:pri:crcwel:wp12-06-ff. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (David Long)

    The email address of this maintainer does not seem to be valid anymore. Please ask David Long to update the entry or send us the correct address

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.