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The Intergenerational Consequences of Mass Incarceration: Implications for Children’s Contact with Grandparents

  • Kristin Turney

    (University of California, Irvine)

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    In response to the rapid growth in mass incarceration, a burgeoning literature documents the mostly deleterious consequences of mass incarceration for individuals and families. But mass incarceration, which has profoundly altered the American kinship system, may also have implications for relationships that span across generations. In this paper, I use data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study to examine how paternal incarceration has altered one important aspect of intergenerational relationships, children’s contact with grandparents. Results from both ordinary least squares (OLS) and fixed-effects regression models show that incarceration decreases the frequency of children’s contact with paternal, but not maternal, grandparents. More than one-quarter of this negative relationship is explained by separation between parents that occurs after paternal incarceration, highlighting the kinkeeping role of mothers. Additionally, consequences are concentrated among children living with both parents prior to paternal incarceration and among children of previously incarcerated fathers. Taken together, results provide some of the first evidence that the collateral consequences of incarceration may extend to intergenerational relationships.

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    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 1462.

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    Date of creation: May 2013
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:pri:crcwel:wp13-07-ff
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