The Null Relation between Father Absence and Earlier Menarche
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.
- Ellis, B. J., McFadyen-Ketchum, S., Dodge, K. A., Pettit, G. S., & Bates, J. E. (1999). Quality of early family relationships and individual differences in the timing of pubertal maturation in girls: A longitudinal test of an evolutionary model. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 77(2), 387–401.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Jones, B., Leeton, J., McLeod, I., & Wood, C. (1972). Factors influencing the age of menarche in a lower socio-economic group in Melbourne. Medical Journal of Australia, 2(10), 533–535.Google Scholar
- Jorm, A. F., Christensen, H., Rodgers, B., Jacomb, P. A., & Easteal, S. (2004). Association of adverse childhood experiences, age of menarche, and adult reproductive behavior: Does the androgen receptor gene play a role? American Journal of Medical Genetics Part B: Neuropsychiatric Genetics, 125(1), 105–111.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Livson, N., & McNeill, D. (1962). The accuracy of recalled age of menarche. Human Biology, 34(3), 218–221.Google Scholar
- Sapolsky, R. M. (2004). Why zebras don't get ulcers (3rd ed.). New York: Henry Holt.Google Scholar
- Sohn, K. (2016h). The risk preferences of entrepreneurs in Indonesia. Bulletin of Economic Research. doi: 10.1111/boer.12088.
- Sohn, K. (2017b). Improvement in the biological standard of living in the 20th century Korea: Evidence from age at menarche. American Journal of Human Biology, 29(1), e22882.Google Scholar
- Sohn, K., & Kwon, I. (2016). Does trust promote entrepreneurship in a developing country? Singapore Economic Review. doi: 10.1142/S0217590816500144.
- Surbey, M. K. (1990). Family composition, stress, and the timing of human menarche. In T. E. Ziegler & F. B. Bercovitch (Eds.), Socioendocrinology of primate reproduction (pp. 11–32). New York: Wiley-Liss.Google Scholar
- Tanner, J. M. (1962). Growth and adolescence. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
- Treloar, S. A., & Martin, N. G. (1990). Age at menarche as a fitness trait: Nonadditive genetic variance detected in a large twin sample. American Journal of Human Genetics, 47(1), 137–148.Google Scholar
- Wierson, M., Long, P. J., & Forehand, R. L. (1993). Toward a new understanding of early menarche: The role of environmental stress in pubertal timing. Adolescence, 28(112), 913–924.Google Scholar