Indiana University SPEA Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy University of Pennsylvania AIR American University

Panel Paper: Beyond Behavior: Paternal Incarceration and Cognitive Development into Middle Childhood

Saturday, November 14, 2015 : 11:15 AM
Johnson I (Hyatt Regency Miami)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Anna R. Haskins, Cornell University
As a growing number of American school-aged children have incarcerated or formerly incarcerated parents, it has become increasingly important to understand the intergenerational effects of mass imprisonment. I use the Fragile Families Study and its rich paternal incarceration data to assess whether having an incarcerated father impacts children’s cognitive skill development into middle childhood. While previous studies have only found effects for young boys’ behavior problems, matching models and sensitivity analyses demonstrate that experiencing paternal incarceration by age 9 is associated with lower cognitive skills for both boys and girls and these negative effects hold when controlling for pre-paternal incarceration measures of child cognitive ability. Moreover, I estimate that paternal incarceration explains between 2 and 15 percent of the Black-White achievement gap at age 9. These findings highlight new outcomes of importance and suggest that paternal incarceration continues to be an important mechanism in the production of intergenerational inequalities. 

Full Paper: