Effects of Fatherless Children

Brandon Wall summaries current research on the effects of fatherlessness on children.

 

 Effects of Fatherless Children

Research Summary

Prepared by Brandon Wall

Staff Researcher

Heart to Heart Communication, LC

 (Note: The research below is only a sample of current research. As more research is undertaken, this post will be updated.)

Living Arrangements For Children 18 Years And Younger From 1960-2010:

  • In 1960, 87.7% of children lived with two parents as opposed to 9.1% only living with only one parent and 3.2% living with relatives (2010 U.S. Census Bureau. Living Arrangements of Children Under 18 Years Old: 1960 to Present; Father Facts, 2011).
  • In 1980, 76.7% of children lived with two parents as opposed to 19.7% only living with only one parent and 3.7% living with relatives (Ibid).
  • In 1990, 72.5% of children lived with two parents as opposed to 24.7% only living with only one parent and 3.1% living with relatives (Ibid).
  • In 2000, 69.1% of children lived with two parents as opposed to 26.7% only living with only one parent and 4.2% living with relatives (Ibid).
  • In 2010, 69.4% of children lived with two parents as opposed to 26.6% only living with only one parent and 4.1% living with relatives (Ibid).
  • In 2010, more children were raised by other relatives (4.1%) than their fathers alone (3.4%) (Ibid)
  • In 2010, 33% of children lived in biological father-absent homes (2010 U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey; Father Facts).
  • 1/3 of Children are expected to live with a non-biological parent before they reach the age of 18 (Fragile Families Research Brief No.46; Father Facts).
  • In 1960, children living only with their mothers, who were never married, was 4.3%, by 1980 it was 15.3%, by 1990 it was 31.5%, by 2000 it was 40.8%, and by 2010 it was 43.6% (2010 US Census Bureau. “Children Under 18 Living with Mother Only, By Marital Status of Mother, 1960 to Present”; Father Facts).
  • In 1960, children living only with their mothers because of divorce was 23.7%, by 1980 it was 41.8%, by 1990 it was 36.9%, by 2000 it was 35.0%, and by 2010 it was 30.8%% (2010 US Census Bureau. “Children Under 18 Living with Mother Only, By Marital Status of Mother, 1960 to Present”; Father Facts).
  • In 1960, 90.9% of white children lived with both parents and 7.1 lived with one parent, by 1990 it was 79.0% with two and 19.2% with one, and by 2010 it was 74.9% with two and 21.8% with one (2010 U.S. Census Bureau. “Living Arrangements of White Children Under 18 Years Old: 1960 to Present”; Father Facts)
  • In 1960, 67.0 of Black children lived with both parents and 21.9 lived with on parent, by 1990 it was 37.7% with two and 54.8% with one, and by 2010 it was 40.8% with two and 51.9% with only one (2010 U.S. Census Bureau. “Living Arrangements of Black Children Under 18 Years Old: 1960 to Present”; Father Facts).

The Consequences of Father Absence For Children

Child Abuse

  • The absence of a biological father contributes to an increase in childhood sexual abuse (Blankenhorn, 1995; Popenoe, 2009; Fragile Families Research Brief No.46; Father Facts).
  • 20% of adult women and 5-10% of adult men have experienced sexual abuse at some time during their childhood (Popenoe).
  • The chances of a daughter being sexually abused by her stepfather are at least seven times higher than by her biological father (Popenoe).
  • In cases of child sexual abuse, when the perpetrator is known, ¼ are cohabiting parents (i.e., boyfriends) (Blankenhorn).
  • In reported cases of nonparental child abuse, ½ are boyfriends (Blankenhorn).
  • About 84% of nonparental child sexual abuse happens in single-parent homes (Blankenhorn).
  • Physical abuse is twice as common as sexual abuse (Popenoe).
  • Mothers are more likely to physically abuse their own children when their partners are stepfathers to the children (Alexandre, Nadanovsky, Moraes, & Reichenheim, 2010; Father Facts).
  • Single mothers have a 71% greater rate of ‘very severe violence’ toward their children than did dual-parent mothers (Popenoe).
  • Single Fathers tend to abuse even more than single mothers (Popenoe).
  • Mother plus stepfather had twice the risk of child abuse than households with two biological parents (Alexandre, Nadanovsky, Moraes, & Reichenheim; Father Facts).
  • Children are far more likely to be physically abused by their stepfather than by their natural father (Popenoe)
  • In 1993, stepparents were 40 times more likely to abuse than children living with two biological parents (Popenoe).
  • Mothers married to the father of their children are at a lower risk for maternal physical abuse (Guterman, Yookyong, Lee, Waldfogel, & Rathouz, 2009; Father Facts).
  • Children with a single parent with a live-in partner have 8 times the rate for maltreatment, 10 times the rate of abuse, and 6 times the rate for neglect (2010 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Administration on Children, Youth and Families, Children’s Bureau; Father Facts)
  • 64% of nonparental abuse is committed by mother’s boyfriends (Popenoe).

Crime

  • Since the 1960, the crime has risen 550%, while the population has grown 41% (Popenoe).
  • Arrest for murders committed by juveniles has gone up by 128% from 1983-1992 (Popenoe).
  • Youth delinquency is 10-15% higher in fatherless homes than intact homes (Popenoe).
  • 90% of adolescents and pre-adolescents in gangs come from single-parent families (Jeynes, 2011).
  • Children raised in fatherless homes have a greater probability to be rapists, murderers, and abuse women and their own children than children raised intact families (Jeynes).
  • 60% of American rapists come from fatherless homes (Popenoe).
  • 72% of adolescent murderers come from fatherless homes (Popenoe).
  • 70% long-term prison inmates come from fatherless homes (Popenoe).
  • Teen violence increases as the number of fathers in a neighborhood decreases (Knoester and Hayne, 2005; Father Facts).
  • There is an increase likelihood for drug and alcohol abuse among children (particularly boys) where the father is absent (Patock-Peckham, Morgan-Lopez, 2007; Mandara and Murray, 2006; Father Facts).

Social Functioning

  • Children raised in fatherless homes have a greater probability to drop out of school (Jeynes).
  • Children raised in fatherless homes have a great probability to be unemployed for longer periods of time (Jeynes).
  • Children raised in fatherless homes have a greater probability to be homeless (Jeynes).
  • There is increase likelihood for depression/withdrawal, antisocial behavior, impulsive/hyperactive behavior, and school behavior problems when a child experiences family transitions (Popenoe).
  • Among all the family processes, the only factor that decreases the odds of engaging in sexual activity is a father’s involvement with his children (Jordahl, & Lohman, 2009; Father Facts).
  • Girls raised without a father have a great proclivity for early sexual activity, adolescent childbearing, divorce, and lack of sexual confidence and orgasmic satisfaction (Blankenhorn).
  • There is a decrease in deviant behavior the longer the father is involved with his children from birth (Antecol, & Bedard, 2007; Father Facts).
  • From 1970-1996 there was a 5% increase in child poverty, which can nearly all be attributed to the rise of single-parent families (Sawhill, 2006; Father Facts; Blankenhorn).

Sources:

Alexandre, G.C., Nadanovsky, P., Moraes, C.L., & Reichenheim, M. (2010). The presence of a stepfather and child physical abuse, as reported by a sample of Brazilian mothers in Rio de Janeiro. Child Abuse & Neglect, 34, 959–966.

Antecol, H., & Bedard, K. (2007). ‘Does single parenthood increase the probability of teenage promiscuity, substance use, and crime?’ Journal of Popular Economics, 20, 55-71.

Blankenhorn, D. (1995). Fatherless America : confronting our most urgent social problem. New York, BasicBooks.

“CPS Involvement in families with social fathers.” Fragile Families Research Brief No.46. Princeton, NJ and New York, NY: Bendheim- Thomas Center for Research on Child Wellbeing and Social Indicators Survey Center, 2010.

Father Facts, 6th edition, 2011.

Guterman, N.B., Yookyong, L., Lee, S. J., Waldfogel, J., & Rathouz, P. J. (2009). Fathers and maternal risk for physical child abuse. Child Maltreatment, 14, 277-290.

Knoester, C., & Hayne, D. A. (2005). Community context, social integration into family, and youth violence. Journal of Marriage and Family, 67, 767-780.

Mandara, J., & Murray, C. B. (2006). Father’s absence and African American adolescent drug use. Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, 46, 1-12.

Patock-Peckham, J. A., & Morgan-Lopez, A. A. (2007). College drinking behaviors: Mediational links between parenting styles, parental bonds, depression, and alcohol problems. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 21, 297–306.

Popenoe, D. (2009). Families without fathers : fathers, marriage and children in American society. New Brunswick, N.J., Transaction Publishers.

Sawhill, I.V. (2006). Teenage sex, pregnancy, and nonmaritial birth. Gender Issues, 23, 48-59.

U.S. Census Bureau. “Living Arrangements of Children Under 18 Years Old: 1960 to Present.” Table CH-1. Internet Release Date November, 2010. http://www.census.gov/population/socdemo/hh-fam/ch5.xls

U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, “Living Arrangements of Children Under 18 Years/1 and Marital Status of Parents, by Age, Sex, Race, and Hispanic Origin/2 and Selected Characteristics of the Child for All Children: 2010”. Table C3. Internet Release Date November, 2010. http://www.census.gov/population/socdemo/hh-fam/cps2010/tabC3-all.xls

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Administration on Children, Youth and Families, Children’s Bureau. (2010). Child Maltreatment 2009. Available from: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/ stats_research/index.htm#can

US Census Bureau. “Children Under 18 Living with Mother Only, By Marital Status of Mother, 1960 to Present” Table CH-5. Internet Release Date November, 2010. http://www.census. gov/population/socdemo/hh-fam/ch5.xls

U.S. Census Bureau. “Living Arrangements of White Children Under 18 Years Old: 1960 to Present.” Table CH-2. Internet Release Date November, 2010. http://www.census.gov/population/socdemo/hh-fam/ch2.xls

U.S. Census Bureau. “Living Arrangements of Black Children Under 18 Years Old: 1960 to Present.” Table CH-3. Internet Release Date November, 2010. http://www.census.gov/population/socdemo/hh-fam/ch3.xls

William Jeynes. ‘The Two-Biological-Parent Family and Economic Prosperity: What’s Gone Wrong,’ The Public Discourse, July 20, 2011 http://www.thepublicdiscourse.come/2011/07/3532

 

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Brandon Wall is Staff Researcher for Heart to Heart Communication and writes blogs on character and parenting for our thrivingcouples.com web site.  He also reports summaries of his research in the area of family studies.  He wrote an intro to this research summary that is available here.  See also his recent review of David Popenoe’s Families Without Fathers: Fathers, Marriage And Children In American Society.  His earlier summary of “The Effects of Divorce on Children and Parents” can be found here.

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Dr. Bing Wall is a therapist specializing in marriage and relationships and issues facing single adults with a practice in Ames and Urbandale, Iowa.  To set up a time to see Dr. Wall click here or call 888-233-8473.  For more information about Dr. Wall click here.

 

 

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One Response to Effects of Fatherless Children

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