, Volume 54, Issue 4, pp 1477–1501 | Cite as

Paternal Incarceration and Adolescent Social Network Disadvantage

  • Brielle BryanEmail author


Previous research has suggested that adolescent peers influence behavior and provide social support during a critical developmental period, but few studies have addressed the antecedents of adolescent social networks. Research on the collateral consequences of incarceration has explored the implications of parental incarceration for children’s behavioral problems, academic achievement, health, and housing stability, but not their social networks. Using network data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, I find that adolescents with recently incarcerated fathers are in socially marginal positions in their schools and befriend more-marginal peers than other adolescents: their friends are less advantaged, less academically successful, and more delinquent than other adolescents’ friends. Differences in network outcomes are robust to a variety of specifications and are consistent across race and gender subgroups. This study advances the social networks literature by exploring how familial characteristics can shape adolescent social networks and contributes to the collateral consequences of incarceration literature by using network analysis to consider how mass incarceration may promote intergenerational social marginalization.


Paternal incarceration Social networks Inequality Children and adolescents 



I am incredibly grateful to Bruce Western and Alexandra Killewald for their patient guidance and thoughtful feedback throughout the course of this project. I also thank Christopher Jencks, Christopher Wildeman, Dana Rotz, Steven Raphael, Becky Pettit, and participants in the Quantitative Sociology workshop, Inequality and Social Policy proseminar, and Justice and Inequality reading group at Harvard University for their helpful comments and suggestions on earlier drafts of this article. This research uses data from Add Health, a program project directed by Kathleen Mullan Harris and designed by J. Richard Udry, Peter S. Bearman, and Kathleen Mullan Harris at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and funded by grant P01-HD31921 from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, with cooperative funding from 23 other federal agencies and foundations. Special acknowledgment is due to Ronald R. Rindfuss and Barbara Entwisle for assistance in the original design. Information on how to obtain the Add Health data files is available on the Add Health website ( No direct support was received from Grant P01-HD31921 for this analysis.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Population Association of America 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyHarvard UniversityCambridgeUSA

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