Large U.S. studies highlight the heavy socioeconomic impact on children growing up with absent parents

A boy and his father meet a delivery robot in Philoma, Oregon.

A boy and his father meet a delivery robot in Philoma, Oregon.

3Natalie Behring / Getty Images Getty Images via North America / AFP

Family life

A new study from the Institute for Family Studies found that having a biological father at home is a significant predictor of boys’ outcomes in fields ranging from criminal behavior to college graduation.

Atlantico: In a study titled “Life Without a Father: Less College, Less Work, and More Prisons for Young People”, you highlight the consequences of living without a biological father for young boys. American (a situation that, according to your information, has grown from about 17% to 32% today.) What are the precise consequences of living without a father?

Brad Wilcox: Young people who grow up without their fathers are more likely to fail in school, fail to start, and run into legal problems. In particular, we find that men in father-current families are almost twice as likely to graduate from college, while people from fatherless families are almost twice as likely to go to prison, and about 70% more likely to be lazy (not working or going to college) in your mid-twenties. .

Strictly speaking, this does not mean that growing up without a father is a death sentence. I grew up without a father and was able to study, find a good job, get married, and so on. The same goes for people like Barack Obama.

But our research shows that fatherlessness increases the risk of failure in today’s youth. And this will be especially true in communities where there are many fatherless sons These communities include more school failures, more crime, and much more that we call “basement boys,” meaning, young men who just stay at home don’t work. There are many such communities in the United States and France today and we all know that a large number of fatherless men are a problem for these communities.

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How have you measured these consequences in the lives of young people?

We saw the 1997 National Longitudinal Youth Study, which tracks adolescents in the late 1990s. These figures illustrate the relationship between fatherlessness and college graduation for American youth, as well as prisons:

What explanations can we think of to explain these high consequences of the Father’s absence?

Deprived of their father’s daily involvement, guidance and positive example at home, as well as the financial benefits associated with his presence at home, boys who grow up without a father are more likely to work, unwilling, drop out of school and fail at work in adolescence and youth. . Although not all fathers play a positive role in their children’s lives, the average son is benefited by a present and involved father.

How much of a connection can we make between the growth of fatherless families and the rise of violence (and the overall situation) in the United States?

That’s a nice question. I am currently researching the link between fatherless families and recent violence in the United States. Robert Sampson, a sociologist at Harvard, points out that part of an earlier study tells us that “(f) the domestic structure is the strongest, if not the strongest, but … predictor of urban violence in all cities in the United States”. I hope we see that in the vicinity of the growing tide of violence where parents are absent much more express themselves.

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Why having a good parent (biological or not) is a major resource in life

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