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Effects of paternal presence and family instability on child cognitive performance

Date Added to Library: 
Thursday, December 27, 2012 - 15:56
Individual Author: 
Craigie, Terry-Ann
Reference Type: 
Place Published: 
Princeton, New Jersey
Published Date: 
Published Date (Date): 
Monday, November 17, 2008
Center for Research on Child Wellbeing Working Paper
Issue Number: 

This study outlines different effects of paternal presence on child cognitive performance by exploiting data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (FFCWS). In addition to incorporating numerous covariates in the model to exploit the richness of the data, the study employs a proxy variable-OLS solution to dealing with the problem of unobserved heterogeneity, where parents’ innate ability, values and preferences may be correlated with paternal presence as well as the child’s cognitive ability. Paternal presence, defined as a continuous variable, yields no statistically significant effect on the child’s cognitive development. However, the study distinguishes between stability and family structure effects of paternal presence. The empirical results show that cognitive outcomes are statistically similar for children in stable single-parent and stable two-parent households. However, disruptive family structures, characterized by a father’s partial presence in the home, are shown to have adverse effects on cognitive performance compared to the stable single-parent family structure. The profound implication of these findings is the importance of family stability relative to family structure in producing positive child outcomes. (author abstract)

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