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Fathers' Activities and Children's Attainments

  • Greg J. Duncan
  • Martha Hill
  • Jean Yeung

Drawing upon little-used data on the activities and attainments of fathers from the early waves of the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID), we assess how paternal characteristics affect the adult success of children raised in two-parent families. Consistent with other research is our finding that various measures of the ability and attainments of fathers (completed schooling, occupation, hourly earnings, cognitive skills) add substantially to the predictive power of models based on maternal characteristics. New in our work is evidence of powerful and robust benefits for both sons and daughters of paternal involvement in school-related PTA activities. Father's church attendance is also predictive of children's attainments, but more so for daughters than sons. An index of father's risk aversion (e.g., having car insurance, fastening seat belts) is a powerful predictor of the completed schooling and labor-market success of sons but not daughters. Finally, an interviewer assessment of the cleanliness of the parental dwelling was a consistently powerful predictor of the attainments of both sons and daughters. Taken together, our results suggest that the degree and nature of father involvement in family activities are important determinants of children's attainments.

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Paper provided by Institute for Policy Resarch at Northwestern University in its series IPR working papers with number 96-25.

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Handle: RePEc:wop:nwuipr:96-25
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