Tag Archives: Fatherlessness

Statistician analyzes effects of UK and Australia gun bans on violent crime rates

Gun ownership up, gun violence down
Gun ownership up, gun violence down

I found this op-ed in the radically-leftist Washington Post, of all places. The author took a look at the evidence on gun violence for Five Thirty Eight, and decided that gun control policies would not help the problems that we are actually facing.

Excerpt:

Leah Libresco is a statistician and former newswriter at FiveThirtyEight, a data journalism site. She is the author of “Arriving at Amen.”

Before I started researching gun deaths, gun-control policy used to frustrate me. I wished the National Rifle Association would stop blocking common-sense gun-control reforms such as banning assault weapons, restricting silencers, shrinking magazine sizes and all the other measures that could make guns less deadly.

Then, my colleagues and I at FiveThirtyEight spent three months analyzing all 33,000 lives ended by guns each year in the United States, and I wound up frustrated in a whole new way. We looked at what interventions might have saved those people, and the case for the policies I’d lobbied for crumbled when I examined the evidence. The best ideas left standing were narrowly tailored interventions to protect subtypes of potential victims, not broad attempts to limit the lethality of guns.

I researched the strictly tightened gun laws in Britain and Australia and concluded that they didn’t prove much about what America’s policy should be. Neither nation experienced drops in mass shootings or other gun related-crime that could be attributed to their buybacks and bans. Mass shootings were too rare in Australia for their absence after the buyback program to be clear evidence of progress. And in both Australia and Britain, the gun restrictions had an ambiguous effect on other gun-related crimes or deaths.

I’ve written before about how banning handguns in the UK doubled the violent crime rate in the next four years. That’s not ambiguous in my book! But this is 538 and Washington Post, so we can’t expect them to agree with the evidence all the way, or they’d be conservatives. Regarding Australia’s gun ban, violent crime rates rose after they confiscated guns as well. It’s very important to look at the data on these issues, because on liberal web sites, they basically run headlines claiming the exact opposite of what studies show, and this is eaten up by their anti-intellectual leftist readers.

More:

When I looked at the other oft-praised policies, I found out that no gun owner walks into the store to buy an “assault weapon.” It’s an invented classification that includes any semi-automatic that has two or more features, such as a bayonet mount, a rocket-propelled grenade-launcher mount, a folding stock or a pistol grip. But guns are modular, and any hobbyist can easily add these features at home, just as if they were snapping together Legos.

As for silencers — they deserve that name only in movies, where they reduce gunfire to a soft puick puick. In real life, silencers limit hearing damage for shooters but don’t make gunfire dangerously quiet. An AR-15 with a silencer is about as loud as a jackhammer. Magazine limits were a little more promising, but a practiced shooter could still change magazines so fast as to make the limit meaningless.

As my co-workers and I kept looking at the data, it seemed less and less clear that one broad gun-control restriction could make a big difference. Two-thirds of gun deaths in the United States every year are suicides. Almost no proposed restriction would make it meaningfully harder for people with guns on hand to use them. 

[…]However, the next-largest set of gun deaths — 1 in 5 — were young men aged 15 to 34, killed in homicides. These men were most likely to die at the hands of other young men, often related to gang loyalties or other street violence. And the last notable group of similar deaths was the 1,700 women murdered per year, usually as the result of domestic violence. Far more people were killed in these ways than in mass-shooting incidents, but few of the popularly floated policies were tailored to serve them.

This excerpt is basically correct, and I’ve explained in the past that inner-city gun violence is caused by fatherlessness, which is caused by the decisions that women make about men and when to have sex with them. Unless we are willing to tell women not to have sex with thuggish bad boys, then we aren’t going to get rid of inner-city gun violence. We certainly shouldn’t be paying women welfare money to have more fatherless children, if we want to stop gun violence. We’re not serious about gun violence, or we would ban single mother welfare, and give tax incentives for children who are raised in a home where the child’s biological is present and committed to the child’s mother for life. No one on the left who complains about gun violence is serious about solving the root cause of gun violence. Because they don’t want to be guided by facts.

The peer-reviewed research

Whenever I get into discussions about gun control, I always mention two academic books by John R. Lott and Joyce Lee Malcolm.

Here is a paper by Dr. Malcolm that summarizes one of the key points of her book.

Excerpt:

Tracing the history of gun control in the United Kingdom since the late 19th century, this article details how the government has arrogated to itself a monopoly on the right to use force. The consequence has been a tremendous increase in violent crime, and harsh punishment for crime victims who dare to fight back. The article is based on the author’s most recent book, Guns and Violence: The English Experience (Harvard University Press, 2002). Joyce Malcom is professor of history at Bentley College, in Waltham, Massachusetts. She is also author of To Keep and Bear Arms: The Origins of an AngloAmerican Right (Harvard University Press, 1994).

Upon the passage of The Firearms Act (No. 2) in 1997, British Deputy Home Secretary Alun Michael boasted: “Britain now has some of the toughest gun laws in the world.” The Act was second handgun control measure passed that year, imposed a near-complete ban on private ownership of handguns, capping nearly eighty years of increasing firearms restrictions. Driven by an intense public campaign in the wake of the shooting of schoolchildren in Dunblane, Scotland, Parliament had been so zealous to outlaw all privately owned handguns that it rejected proposals to exempt Britain’s Olympic target-shooting team and handicapped target-shooters from the ban.

And the result of the 1997 gun ban:

The result of the ban has been costly. Thousands of weapons were confiscated at great financial cost to the public. Hundreds of thousands of police hours were devoted to the task. But in the six years since the 1997 handgun ban, crimes with the very weapons banned have more than doubled, and firearm crime has increased markedly. In 2002, for the fourth consecutive year, gun crime in England and Wales rose—by 35 percent for all firearms, and by a whopping 46 percent for the banned handguns. Nearly 10,000 firearms offences were committed.

[…]According to Scotland Yard, in the four years from 1991 to 1995 crimes against the person in England‟s inner cities increased by 91 percent. In the four years from 1997 to 2001 the rate of violent crime more than doubled. The UK murder rate for 2002 was the highest for a century.

I think that peer-reviewed studies – from Harvard University, no less – should be useful to those of us who believe in the right of self-defense for law-abiding people. The book by economist John Lott, linked above,compares the crime rates of all U.S. states that have enacted concealed carry laws, and concludes that violent crime rates dropped after law-abiding citizens were allowed to carry legally-owned firearms. That’s the mirror image of Dr. Malcolm’s Harvard study, but both studies affirm the same conclusion – more legal firearm ownership means less crime.

What should Christians do in order to reduce fatherlessness and abortion?

Can Christian women expect non-Christian men to transform into faithful providers after they are given recreational premarital sex?
Should we tell women to expect men to commit to them after recreational premarital sex?

Last week, I tweeted something that was very popular, although I got some disagreements with it. I tweeted that if we encouraged women to not have sex with men before the men married them, then there would be almost no fatherless children.

Here’s the exact tweet:

Fatherlessness is caused by women’s poor choices about men, sex, and marriage. If women married good men before having sex, there would be almost no fatherlessness. Strange that some “Christians” have sex before marriage, when that is prohibited in the Bible.

Now, the reason I focused on women in this tweet is because many women expect premarital sex to lead to a relationship, and eventually marriage. It is good for them to want a relationship and marriage. But the bad boys that many women tend to prefer aren’t choosing premarital sex in order to get to marriage or children. They have no desire for anything beyond the premarital sex. It seems reasonable to me that if I help women to see their mistaken view, then it would prevent a lot of fatherlessness (not to mention abortion and divorce) later on. If women prefer men who commit first instead of those who want commitment-free sex then we will see less sex outside marriage, less fatherlessness, and less abortion.

I decided to expand on my tweet in this post.

We need to teach young women that premarital sex does not cause men to become faithful husbands

Even women who have recreational sex with a lot of different men have this expectation that it will lead to relationships and eventually a committment, in which the man makes all their dreams come true and does whatever they want to make them feel happy at all times. This isn’t marriage, of course, but it is what they imagine that giving a hot bad boy premarital sex will lead to.

Here is what one 26-year-old writes: (language warning)

Age 19-22 Some boyfriends are somewhere in here. But it was where my body count really took off. If a guy liked me, which I now understand, was simple attraction, I thought sex would seal the deal, and they would get to know me more after, and fall in love with me. Let’s all pause to laugh together at my naivete. I promise you every (almost) guy, I thought I could have a relationship with. It never happened. At best they were regulars. Long-term I had 2 serious boyfriends.

A lot of women choose hot bad boys because the hot bad boys give them feelings “in the moment”, and impress their friends. They think that marriage is supposed to make them happy all the time, and so they want the bad boy to commit. This is why so many young women give the bad boys sex, to make the happy feelings last. And many think that they are on a path to marriage with the hot bad boy if they can keep him around by giving him premarital sex, or cohabitation.

But is this what marriage is about – making the woman feel happy in the long-term? Of course not. Marriage is about self-sacrificial love, self-denial, self-control, faithfulness, and raising children. So, women should be taught to choose men who prepare for actual marriage (men who have chosen chastity, gap-less resume, frugality, mentoring, no drugs or alcohol, apologetics). These traits are directly related to the responsibilities of a husband and father in a marriage (fidelity, love, fatherhood, provider, pastoring, etc). Fathers and pastors should be aware of the research about what traits and skills lead to stable and successful marriages, and be able to support their claims with studies when teaching women. For example, they should know about the studies showing how women’s number of premarital sex partners affects her contentedness in her marriage, the marriage quality, and the marriage stability.

That’s the point I was trying to make in my tweet.

Marriage requires self-sacrificial moral behavior

Fathers and pastors need to teach young people how to check a mate for the ability to behave morally, which is a necessary pre-requisite for a marriage commitment. The bare minimum foundation for moral behavior is a theistic worldview. A Designer of the universe. Objective moral laws. An immaterial soul that allows free choices. Accountability when you die. And meaningfulness of moral choices because of that ongoing relationship with the Designer in the afterlife. Moral behavior depends on the existence of God, so the mate-chooser should know evidence for that too, and be able to evaluate the mate on his knowledge of that evidence. People shouldn’t take the claim to be religious or spiritual at face value, they should want to see the reasons and evidence that support the claim. The rational grounding of moral behavior is important for marriage, and it needs to be checked, instead of just felt with intuitions. Young people should be taught to prefer mates who have demonstrated the ability to act morally in situations where it goes against their self-interest to be moral. After all, once the mate-chooser chooses a mate, every immoral thing he/she suffers from their chosen mate was a result of his/her choice of mate.

The goal is to prevent harm to children

Some Christian women disagree with my goal of stopping fatherlessness and abortion by telling women to make better choices. Instead, they want to support women who use premarital sex to try to land a hot bad boy.  They say that if the woman’s sex-first plan doesn’t work out, that’s not her fault, because all hot bad boys should feel obligated to marry after being given premarital sex. One woman wrote me 2500 words in response to my tweet to tell me (repeatedly, and in great detail) that the Bible is seen as  an authority even by hot non-Christian bad boys. If this is the kind of advice that young women are getting from older women, then it’s no wonder we have a 42% out-of-wedlock birth rate, and 1 million unborn children being killed every year.

But I don’t think that encouraging women to make feelings-based choices will work to reduce fatherlessness. When you’re dealing with hot bad boys, they don’t care about the Bible, and so you can’t try to convince them to do anything that the Bible says. The only solution is for good women to pass them by, and instead choose good men who want to make a commitment first. If women leave the hot bad boys alone, and concentrate on marriage-minded men, then we won’t have so much fatherlessness or abortion.

Why are so many educated, successful women struggling to find a husband?

Do young women understand how to get to a stable marriage?
Do young women understand how to get to a stable marriage?

The New York Times says that more and more women are having to freeze their eggs because they can’t find good men to marry. The NYT doesn’t think that women are doing anything wrong. They blame the men for refusing to commit. According to feminism, women who value careers, abortion rights, no-fault divorce, big government, high taxes, etc. are doing everything right. But does it work?

I thought it might be a good idea to help Western women to make better decisions with men and marriage. Although setting out boundaries seems harsh and restrictive, it’s actually protective and loving. If we want women to get to a stable marriage and children, (what they really need long term, after they lose their looks and youth), then we should be bold about leading them.

The first thing to point out is that the women celebrated by the New  York Times are intentionally delaying marriage for their education and careers.

Another New York Times article explains:

It could be that the new generation of millennial women is delaying having children even longer than the women who came before them, as prime childbearing years are also critical years for advancing in a career. A recent study shows that the marital pay gap that springs up after a first child is born typically does not close if the birth happens between age 25 and 35.

Shannon Hettinger, a 32-year-old from Washington, D.C., said she definitely wanted children. She grew up in a large family in a small town in Pennsylvania and almost all her high school friends are married with children. But she moved to Washington, and spent her 20s deciding on a career. Now that she has one she loves — she works in residential real estate sales — she is not going to stop until she gets established. That means not having children for a while.

“I just want to build my book of business and see where I can go from here,” she said. “My whole focus is career growth. That’s my No. 1 priority.”

“Once I achieve a certain level of success,” she added, “then I’ll start thinking about a family.”

Ivy Gray-Klein, 26, who lives in Philadelphia and works at the University of Pennsylvania School of Design, said she was open to having children but cannot imagine doing so until she is 30 or 35. She wants to feel settled in her own life first. Now she has three roommates, is paying down her student loans and is working to build a little bit of savings.

“I’m just really trying to get myself to a place that is solid,” she said by phone. “Having a child right now would be so destabilizing. Children just seem like such an enormous financial undertaking.”

The thing about women wanting to pursue their careers in their 20s is that this is the time when they have the most attractiveness to a man as a wife and mother. The woman’s 20s are the perfect time for her to be searching through the men in her life, looking for the ones who are serious about marriage, while rejecting the ones who just want sex before marriage, cohabitation, and other irresponsible “fun”. Most women who are focusing on their careers will still be in relationships during their 20s, but since they can’t afford to be “encumbered” by marriage, they’ll be spending time with guys who don’t want to commit. This is NOT a good way for a woman to prepare her character for marriage. Flings and break-ups with bad boys do not cause a woman to be trusting with a good man later on.

However, are women ever really attracted to good men? Suppose a woman chased bad boys in her 20s, while focusing on her career, then got serious at 30 and started looking for marriage-read men. Would she really be attracted to those marriage-ready men, after all that time spent choosing the bad boys who would not commit?I think many marriage-ready men know that most women who are 30 or over have kept busy in relationships with bad boys. And they don’t want to be married to a woman who finds them unattractive. So the real problem with men not marrying women who are over 30 is the that many women are not trained to be attracted to good men in their 20s.

Here’s an LA Times editorial about women and domestic terrorist Dzhokar Tsarnaev, one of the Boston marathon bombers.

Excerpt:

Mostly, though, they think Dzhokhar is cute. The Bambi eyes (looking right out of his Instagram-doctored photos at you!), the hipster facial stubble, the masses of wine-dark tousled hair — adorable! Impassioned believers have written “Dzhokhar is innocent” on their hands and plastered “Innocent until proven guilty!!!!” posters around their towns. An 18-year-old waitress interviewed by the New York Post vowed to have Dzhokhar’s last tweet before the bombing tattooed onto her arm: “If you have the knowledge and the inspiration all that’s left is to take action.”

[…]But the real cause of the Jahar craze more likely lies in something more primal and less pretty in the female psyche. I’m betting that women, young and old, are drawn to Dzhokhar not because he is a good-looking late adolescent but because he is a good-looking accused killer. He’s a classic “bad boy” of the sort to whom women are chronically attracted because they want to reform them, or minister to their wounds, or be the healing presence they’ve never had — but mostly because they find them sexy.

That article also noted:

It’s not surprising, then, that every homicide perp on death row who is reasonably attractive has groupies. Consider the handsome (and widely philandering) Scott Peterson, sentenced in 2005 for killing his wife and unborn son and throwing their remains into San Francisco Bay. The day he checked into San Quentin, he received three dozen phone calls from smitten women, including an 18-year-old who wanted to become the second Mrs. Peterson.

Some of the tweets and other fangirl comments about Tsarnaev were collected in this New York Post article.

Lots of Western women from the UK, France, Russia, etc. all picked up and moved to the Middle East to become ISIS jihadi brides.

Excerpt:

Western women joining Islamic State are increasingly from comfortable backgrounds and often well educated with romantic notions of adventure often quickly dispelled by the harshness of life as a “Jihadi bride”, according to a British research report.

Some 550 women from Western countries have left their homelands to join Islamic State, which has captured swathes of Syria and Iraq, said the report by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue and the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation at King’s College, London.

[…]It said female recruits were increasingly younger, some from comfortable backgrounds and often well-educated, and were playing “crucial” propaganda and recruitment roles.

That article is three years old, the numbers have more than doubled since then. The most common reasons cited for leaving are romance and adventure.

Psychology Today has some comments about why some women do this:

In her post, “Women Who Love Serial Killers,” PT blogger, Katherine Ramsland, offers some suggestions about why some women can be so attracted to, or hopelessly beguiled by, the most terrifying of human predators. At first, she provides explanations from the women themselves, women who actually married these dangerously unhinged criminals. Their reasons (somewhat elaborated here) include the assumptions that:

  • their love can transform the convict: from cunning and cruel, to caring, concerned, and compassionate.

  • there’s a wounded child nested somewhere inside the killer that can be healed through a devoted nurturance that only they can provide.

  • they might share the killer’s media spotlight, and so triumphantly emerge from their anonymity, and maybe in the process even land a book or movie deal (an aspiration about as cynical as it is narcissisticand self-serving).

And this is even more interesting:

To simplify this work’s findings for my present purpose, however, let me begin by emphasizing that Ogas and Gaddam find substantial evidence from Web searches, posts, and many 1,000s of romance novels that women demonstrate a strong erotic preference for dominant men. Or toward what’s now commonly referred to as alpha males—in the authors’ words, men who are “strong, confident, [and] swaggering [as in “cocky,” and the pun is intended].” Unfortunately, what these descriptors often imply is behavior sufficiently bearish, self-centered, and insensitive as to often cross the line into a physical, mental, and emotional abuse that can be downright brutal.

[…]Moreover, in responding to the question as to whether some men, such as “serial killers, violent offenders, and rapists,” might be too dominant for women to accept, Ogas and Gaddam note: “It turns out that killing people is an effective way to elicit the attention of many women: virtually every serial killer, including Ted Bundy, Charles Manson, and David Berkowitz, have received love letters from large numbers of female fans” (p. 98).

Women choose good-looking bad boys, because they think that they can change them:

The fantasy that seems to be operating in such devotees, and that constitutes the plot of virtually all erotic/romantic novels written with women in mind, is that the “misogyny and jerkdom” they might have to battle with in such super-dominant males is only temporary. That it doesn’t really represent the man’s innermost reality. That his violence and lack of tender feelings is only the beginning of the story, and that their unsparing love, affection, and dedication can ultimately transform his character by helping him get in touch with his, well, “inner goo.”

I don’t think it’s wrong for women to do STEM degrees, and even go to graduate school, and work a couple of years in the private sector. The problems occur when they want to have relationships during those years, but not with men who want to commit. The experiences they have with the hot bad boys in that time cause them to be disatisfied with marriage-minded men (self-control, frugality, provider ability, chastity, loyalty, mentoring, etc.) later on when they do want to marry. And marriage-minded men KNOW THAT. We aren’t going to be tricked into marriage to someone who finds the shallow characteristics of irresponsible bad boys more attractive than men who have demonstrated ability at the husband and father roles.

What do research studies say about the bond between fathers and daughters?

Texas senator Ted Cruz, his wife Heidi Cruz and their two daughters
Texas senator Ted Cruz, his wife Heidi Cruz and their two daughters

Many people today think that biological fathers are not essential for raising daughters. In fact, we even support this view by passing no-fault divorce laws, single-mother welfare laws, and by opposing shared parenting laws. The story goes that children do fine without their biological father in the home. Having children is something that women decide to do, and the man is superfluous. So I thought it might be a good idea to take a look at the research.

Here is a recent article from the centrist Institute for Family Studies.

It says:

The dynamic between fathers and their daughters has been characterized by one expert as the most “fragile and unstable” when compared to other parent-child relationships.1 It can be further described as one of the most powerful and vital relationships to individuals, communities, and nations. For instance, fathers have a profound impact on their daughters’ body image,clinical depression, eating disorders,self-esteem, and life satisfaction,to name but a few.

But of all the unique contributions a father makes in his daughter’s life, perhaps there is none of greater significance than in the area of sexual development and activity and romantic relationships.

  • Numerous studies have discovered female pubertal timing occurs later in girls whose fathers are consistently present in their life.5
  • An extensive body of research has revealed that early pubertal maturation in girls is associated with a variety of negative biological, psychological, and social outcomes, including, mood disorders,substance abuse,adolescent pregnancy,and a variety of cancers of the reproductive system.9
  • Fatherless daughters are seven times more likely to become pregnant as teens.10

[…]The conditions in our culture of both rampant fatherlessness and sexual promiscuity are incompatible with forming secure and healthy relationships with boys and with establishing stable families for the next generation. A young girl’s sexual development can significantly outpace her neurological and emotional development—the very resources needed to guide her sexual choices.

Herein lies the danger. Much of our culture today promotes sexual activity but void of healthy attachment or true intimacy. There is a great deal of evidence to suggest that high levels of father involvement (regardless of dad’s marital status) are predictive of high levels of intimacy, commitment, and trust in young female adults’ romantic relationships; whereas low levels of father involvement are predictive of the opposite.11

And:

How a father treats both his daughter and her mother can help a young woman feel safe and secure in her relationships with the boys and men in her life, including her future husband. Family scientists and evolutionary psychologists have discovered that girls appear to be born with an emotional, relational, and evolutionary void that a father is designated to fill. If left vacant, girls will be more likely to seek to fill it in with other, unhealthier substitutes. The father-daughter relationship is the one that best teaches young women about true love and intimacy, self-worth, and respect.

Professor Linda Nielsen summarized this in one profound sentence: “[T]he father has the greater impact on the daughter’s ability to trust, enjoy, and relate well to the males in her life.”

So, a father’s love keeps her from getting into relationships with boys before the boys are ready to commit to her. By the way, I don’t think that boys should even be allowed to TALK to girls about a relationship, unless they have a STEM degree, and two years of private sector work experience. I really hate when unemployed, penniless boys waste a girl’s time when they can’t afford to commit to her. People think I am pretty rough on women, but I really am much meaner to men who don’t have STEM degrees and gapless resumes. (I guess a skilled trade would work as well, in place of the STEM degree – something like electrician, for example).

Anyway, back to the research. When a woman is deciding which men to have sex with, she has to be thinking of more than just her own needs. She has to choose a man who is going to stick around long enough to raise her daughters, so that they grow up with the confidence to resist the advances of boys who aren’t ready to commit. To be pro-woman means to be pro-daughter, and that means that women need to be persuaded to be careful about the choice of sex partner, and the timing of sexual activity. This is why people used to keep sex for marriage in the past: to protect children by making sure that they would get the stability and engagement they need from their parents.

Also, I have talked about the research about father-son bond in a different post.

If you want to do right for your children, then you need to control yourself and make wise choices. And if you’re struggling to make good choices, then don’t leave it up to your emotions and peer approval. Disregard your emotions. Disregard peer approval. Instead, let your decision-making be guided by your Christian convictions, and strengthened with scientific evidence. The Bible tells you not to have sex before you’re married, and science tells you why this is good policy. The Bible gives you the goals, and science tells you how to how the world works, so you know how to make plans that will make sure you are never in a place where you are pressured to do the wrong thing. The more science you pack into your head, the easier it will be for you to convince yourself to do the right thing, and to convince your partner to do the right thing. Science takes moral decision-making outside the realm of feelings and opinions.

And if your partner says “I don’t care about the needs of our future children”, then you have a good reason to dump them and move on. You can’t be in a relationship with someone who thinks that children’s needs are less important than adult desires. In fact, the whole design for relationships should start with what children need from the marriage and parents, and work backward from there to the obligations on the man and the woman. And men and women ought to discuss this. What are we trying to achieve with this relationship anyway? And what is the right way to achieve it? This is where the research comes in – it shows you how to do it right.

Research from the Heritage Foundation

Study: raising children without a father causes harm to the children

Lets take a closer look at a puzzle
Lets take a closer look at a puzzle

I thought it might be a good idea to take a look at a recent research paper on father absence. My purpose in posting this study is to remind people to think about what children need when making relationship decisions. Fathers are more of a necessity for children than a nice-to-have.

The paper about a large-scale study was 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.

Right now, we’re living in a time where people think that it’s ok to do whatever they feel like doing. People seem to treat relationships as if they are meant to provide the grown-ups with satisfaction, and the needs of the children are often neglected. Any kind of warning or appeal to evidence is dismissed by those who want to bend and break the rules.

Well, when you take a look at the studies, you actually find that there are rules about how to go about relationships in order to achieve results. It seems to me that children’s needs ought to be an important consideration when making relationship decisions. Men shouldn’t have babies with bad mothers, and women shouldn’t have babies with bad fathers. It ought to be an important criterion for choosing a mate and conducting a relationship: are we making decisions protecting children and giving them what they need?

And it turns out that there are studies that tell you how to prepare for making a stable commitment, too. Like this one, which found that the number of premarital sex partners reduces relationship stability and quality. This is just an example, there are many more studies that provide a lot more information about how to do things right.

I think today, people want to make decisions about what to do based on feelings. If it feels good, do it. But this approach doesn’t work anywhere in life. It doesn’t work when choosing a major, when choosing a job, when choosing how to spend money. It just never works. Nothing useful is ever achieved by putting feelings above reason and evidence.

People shouldn’t be surprised when they break the rules and then get negative outcomes. It just takes a little reading first to find out what is likely to work and what isn’t. There are real victims to bad decisions. There are mistakes that can’t be fixed with happy talk and a positive attitude. We seem to have gotten addicted to the idea that every damaging mistake can be fixed by making everyone around say happy words about the mistake. But the truth is that when you make bad decisions, the damage exists independently of what people say about it.

It’s not the mean people making moral judgments that causes fatherless kids to have higher anxiety or be more violent or get pregnant earlier or abuse drugs. It’s the fatherlessness. The only hope that children have to avoid the consequences of bad decisions by parents is for the moral people to set boundaries and teach moral wisdom with evidence.