New study: fatherlessness linked to negative outcomes

Marriage and family
Marriage and family

The paper is posted at NCBI NIH.

The abstract says:

The literature on father absence is frequently criticized for its use of cross-sectional data and methods that fail to take account of possible omitted variable bias and reverse causality. We review studies that have responded to this critique by employing a variety of innovative research designs to identify the causal effect of father absence, including studies using lagged dependent variable models, growth curve models, individual fixed effects models, sibling fixed effects models, natural experiments, and propensity score matching models. Our assessment is that studies using more rigorous designs continue to find negative effects of father absence on offspring well-being, although the magnitude of these effects is smaller than what is found using traditional cross-sectional designs. The evidence is strongest and most consistent for outcomes such as high school graduation, children’s social-emotional adjustment, and adult mental health.

I was curious to see what specific problems fatherlessness causes for children, according to this redo of previous studies.

The conclusion explains:

The body of knowledge about the causal effects of father absence on child well-being has grown during the early twenty-first century as researchers have increasingly adopted innovative methodological approaches to isolate causal effects. We reviewed 47 such articles and find that, on the whole, articles that take one of the more rigorous approaches to handling the problems of omitted variable bias and reverse causality continue to document negative effects of father absence on child well-being, though these effects are stronger during certain stages of the life course and for certain outcomes.

We find strong evidence that father absence negatively affects children’s social-emotional development, particularly by increasing externalizing behavior. These effects may be more pronounced if father absence occurs during early childhood than during middle childhood, and they may be more pronounced for boys than for girls. There is weaker evidence of an effect of father absence on children’s cognitive ability.

Effects on social-emotional development persist into adolescence, for which we find strong evidence that father absence increases adolescents’ risky behavior, such as smoking or early childbearing. The evidence of an effect on adolescent cognitive ability continues to be weaker, but we do find strong and consistent negative effects of father absence on high school graduation. The latter finding suggests that the effects on educational attainment operate by increasing problem behaviors rather than by impairing cognitive ability.

The research base examining the longer-term effects of father absence on adult outcomes is considerably smaller, but here too we see the strongest evidence for a causal effect on adult mental health, suggesting that the psychological harms of father absence experienced during childhood persist throughout the life course. The evidence that father absence affects adult economic or family outcomes is much weaker. A handful of studies find negative effects on employment in adulthood, but there is little consistent evidence of negative effects on marriage or divorce, on income or earnings, or on college education.

Despite the robust evidence that father absence affects social-emotional outcomes throughout the life course, these studies also clearly show a role for selection in the relationship between family structure and child outcomes. In general, estimates from IFE, SFE, and PSM models are smaller than those from conventional models that do not control for selection bias. Similarly, studies that compare parental death and divorce often find that even if both have significant effects on well-being, the estimates of the effect of divorce are larger than those of parental death, which can also be read as evidence of partial selection.

Something to think about when people on the left tell you that children don’t need a father. And remember, increasing welfare payments for single mothers just encourages them to have more children, and to delay marriage. Big government takes the place of a man, and allows them to pursue men who make them feel good, rather than men who can actually do the job of being a father and a husband. The single mothers I’ve spoken to like government stepping in, because it allows them more freedom to follow their hearts, rather than having to give to and invest in a man. We are paying them to do this when we give them money, making fathers optional. It’s child abuse, aided and abetted by government.

6 thoughts on “New study: fatherlessness linked to negative outcomes”

  1. Now I have not looked into this yet so I apologize if there is information readily available, but have you seen studies that show the affect of no mother? I.E. single Father’s? I haven’t seen anything like this before.

  2. “…And remember, increasing welfare payments for single mothers just encourages them to have more children, and to delay marriage.”

    Marriage to WHOM? In this era of easy access to different kinds of cheap, dependable birth control methods (not to mention abortion), only a fool or an idiot would become involved with — let alone marry — a woman who has demonstrated such a lack of good judgement and good decision-making abilities as to get knocked up by a man who would not marry her.
    Marriage in this day of female supremacy, ‘no-fault’ divorce, and the anti-male Family Court system is a foolish risk for any man; small wonder that fewer men than ever are engaging in it.

    1. Hopefully, men are getting smart enough to realize the dangers of marrying women who have a lot of premarital partners. It really does something to their character, that renders them incapable of lasting self-sacrificial love to husband and kids.

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