Nonresident Fathers and Adolescent Problem Behavior: Explaining the Link

Mindy E. Scott, Pennsylvania State University

There is near uniform agreement that children living in homes without their biological father have lower levels of well-being compared to those residing with both biological parents. Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health), we evaluate the relative impact of financial capital and fathers’ social capital on the association between having a nonresident father and adolescent externalizing and internalizing behaviors. Although low income accounts for part of the link, low levels of father-offspring closeness accounts for a much greater portion of the association. Given these findings, we next apply a risk and resilience approach to explore the role that mother’s human and social capital, along with offspring’s individual qualities, play in protecting offspring from the negative effects of low father-offspring relationship quality on problem behavior among nonresident father families.

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Presented in Poster Session 3: Children and Youth, Adolescence, Parenting, Transition to Adulthood, Life Course