Original Paper

Journal of Population Economics

, Volume 20, Issue 1, pp 55-71

First online:

Does single parenthood increase the probability of teenage promiscuity, substance use, and crime?

  • Heather AntecolAffiliated withDepartment of Economics, Claremont McKenna College Email author 
  • , Kelly BedardAffiliated withDepartment of Economics, University of California

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


There is longstanding evidence that youths raised by single parents are more likely to perform poorly in school and partake in “deviant” behaviors such as smoking, sex, substance use, and crime. However, there is not widespread agreement as to whether the timing of the marital disruption differentially impacts youth outcomes. Using the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth and its Young Adult Supplement, we find that an additional 5 years with the biological father decreases the probability of smoking, drinking, engaging in sexual activity, marijuana use, and conviction by approximately 5.3, 1.2, 3.4, 2.2 and 0.3 percentage points, respectively.


Family structure Marital dissolution Youth outcomes

JEL Classification

J12 J13