Parental Incarceration and Child Wellbeing: Implications for Urban Families.

Columbia University.
Social Science Quarterly (Impact Factor: 0.99). 12/2009; 90(5):1186-1202. DOI: 10.1111/j.1540-6237.2009.00653.x
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT OBJECTIVE: Using a population-based, longitudinal family survey (N=4,898), we identify economic, residential, and developmental risks particular to the children of incarcerated parents. METHODS: We use parental reports of incarceration history, demographic background, and a rich set of child and family outcomes, in a series of multivariate regression models. RESULTS: Children of incarcerated parents face more economic and residential instability than their counterparts. Sons of incarcerated fathers display more behavior problems, though other developmental differences are insignificant. CONCLUSIONS: We find that incarceration identifies families facing severe hardship, which cannot be explained by other observed family characteristics. Given the prevalence of incarceration, our findings suggest that a large population of children suffers unmet material needs, residential instability, and behavior problems. These risks may be best addressed by using the point of incarceration as an opportunity for intervention and the administration of age-appropriate social services.

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