The Null Relation between Father Absence and Earlier Menarche
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Researchers have claimed that the absence of a biological father accelerates the daughter’s menarche. This claim was assessed by employing a large and nationally representative sample of Indonesian women. We analyzed 11,138 ever-married women aged 15+ in the Indonesian Family Life Survey 2015. We regressed age at menarche on the interaction of father absence (vs. presence) and mother absence (vs. presence) at age 12 with or without childhood covariates. For robustness checks, we performed a power analysis, re-ran the same specification for various subgroups, and varied the independent variable of interest. All results produced a null relation between father absence and age at menarche. The power analysis suggests that a false negative was unlikely. Our review of the literature indicates that the claim of the relation between father absence and earlier menarche was based on weak statistical foundations. Other studies with higher-quality datasets tended to find no relation, and our results replicated this tendency. Therefore, the influence of father absence does not appear to be universal.
KeywordsFather absence Menarche Evolution Indonesia
I am grateful to the two anonymous reviewers for helpful comments and suggestions.
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