Skip navigation
Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
Title: Are Kids Imprisoned by Paternal Incarceration? A Study on the Effects of Paternal Incarceration on Children’s Behavioral and Cognitive Development
Authors: Liu, Ellen
Advisors: Pithers, Lisa
Department: Woodrow Wilson School
Class Year: 2015
Abstract: This paper examines how paternal incarceration affects children’s behavioral and cognitive development by drawing on a sample of 4898 children and their families from the Year 9 data in the Fragile Families and Wellbeing Study, a national study that looks at families considered vulnerable by following a cohort of children born between 1998-2000 and their parents across the United States. While previous studies, which primarily focus on young children between birth and the age of 5, have shown that paternal incarceration can have an extremely negative influence on the children growing up in vulnerable families, little research has been done looking at children in middle childhood. In order to draw conclusions about childhood development as affected by paternal incarceration, this paper assesses children’s behavioral development by looking internalizing and externalizing behavior. Furthermore, this paper also examines children’s cognitive capabilities by looking at measures of the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test and the Woodcock Johnson III Test. From my regressions, I find that paternal incarceration is a significant indicator of both higher internalizing and externalizing behavior in children, even when the covariates are taken into consideration. For cognitive development, paternal incarceration is associated with significantly higher scores for PPVT and marginal significance for Woodcock-Johnson score. Paternal incarceration is nonsignificant for both cognitive measures when the covariates are added. My results indicate that the rising rate of incarceration in vulnerable families might further impair the life chances of children growing up in such family conditions. I propose policy changes like increased financial assistance, mental health services, and parenting programs for the family, which could help reduce the harmful effects of imprisonment from being transferred intergenerationally.
Extent: 121 pages
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: en_US
Appears in Collections:Woodrow Wilson School, 1929-2017

Files in This Item:
File SizeFormat 
PUTheses2015-Liu_Ellen.pdf544.8 kBAdobe PDF    Request a copy

Items in Dataspace are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.