Here is yet another new study which confirms the importance of fathers in children's lives. In the December 1, 1998 issue of The Wall Street Journal, Maggie Gallagher's article Fatherless Boys Grow Up Into Dangerous Men reports on a study by the University of California's Cynthia Harper and Princeton's Sara McLanahan.
Using the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth database, the records of more than 6,400 boys were studied over a period of approximately 20 years of their development. According to the Wall Street Journal story, the study
...controlled for family background variables such as mother's educational level, race, family income and number of siblings, as well as neighborhood variables like the proportion of female-headed families in the neighborhood, unemployment rates, median income and even cognitive ability.... Boys raised outside of intact marriages
are, on average, more than twice as likely as other boys to end up jailed,
even after controlling for other demographic factors. Each year spent
without a dad in the home increases the odds of future incarceration by about five percent.
The study also confirmed the findings of other researchers: Boys living with just their single fathers do not exhibit this increased rate of criminal behavior.
This latest study comes on the heels of several others with similar findings, and perhaps some family courts are already beginning to get the message when awarding custody. Single father homes have increased by 25 percent in just three years, according to the US Census Bureau.