, Volume 87, Issue 3, pp 427-443
Date: 03 Jul 2007

Children Living Without Their Fathers: Population Estimates and Indicators of Educational Well-being

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This paper estimates the number of American children in grades K–12 who live without their biological fathers and examines the association of absent-father status with children’s well-being. The 2003 Parent and Family Involvement in Education Survey of the National Household Education Surveys Program (n = 12,426) shows that 28% percent of White students, 39% of Hispanic students, 69% of Black students, and 36% overall live without their fathers. In bivariate comparisons, absent-father status is associated with reduced well-being: worse health, lower academic achievement, worse educational experiences, and less parental involvement in school activities. When socio-economic factors are controlled, father-absence is associated with small deficits of well-being. The findings suggest that the conventional wisdom may exaggerate the detrimental effects of father absence.