Fathers and Youth's Delinquent Behavior

50 Pages Posted: 30 Oct 2011

See all articles by Deborah A. Cobb-Clark

Deborah A. Cobb-Clark

School of Economics, University of Sydney; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Erdal Tekin

Georgia State University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

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Abstract

This paper analyzes the relationship between having one or more father figures and the likelihood that young people engage in delinquent criminal behavior. We pay particular attention to distinguishing the roles of residential and non-residential, biological fathers as well as stepfathers. Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, we find that adolescent boys engage in more delinquent behavior if there is no father figure in their lives. However, adolescent girls' behavior is largely independent of the presence (or absence) of their fathers. The strong effect of family structure is not explained by the lack of paternal involvement that generally comes with fathers' absence, even though adolescents, especially boys, who spend time doing things with their fathers usually have better outcomes. There is also a link between adult delinquent behavior and adolescent family structure that cannot be explained by fathers' involvement with their adolescent sons and is only partially explained by fathers' involvement with their adolescent daughters. Finally, the strong link between adolescent family structure and delinquent behavior is not accounted for by the income differentials associated with fathers' absence. Our results suggest that the presence of a father figure during adolescence is likely to have protective effects, particularly for males, in both adolescence and young adulthood.

Keywords: fathers, adolescence, family structure, crime, delinquent behavior

JEL Classification: J12, J13, K42

Suggested Citation

Cobb-Clark, Deborah A. and Tekin, Erdal, Fathers and Youth's Delinquent Behavior. IZA Discussion Paper No. 6042. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1951333

Deborah A. Cobb-Clark (Contact Author)

School of Economics, University of Sydney ( email )

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IZA Institute of Labor Economics

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Erdal Tekin

Georgia State University - Department of Economics ( email )

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United States
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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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IZA Institute of Labor Economics

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Bonn, D-53072
Germany

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