Chapter 10: Family structure and child support: what matters for youth delinquency rates?
William S. Comanor and Llad Phillips INTRODUCTION Although there is a considerable literature on the eﬀect of family structure on the performance of children, relatively little attention has been directed to the diﬀerent alternatives that exist when a biological parent is absent. For the most part, earlier studies have focused on the presence or absence of a child’s father, and asked whether his presence makes a diﬀerence for various measures of performance. Strikingly, there is near universal agreement that children who are raised in the presence of both mother and father do better along various dimensions as compared with those who live in alternative arrangements. In most cases, these studies assume that the child remains with his or her mother, for that is generally the case. In our earlier paper on this subject,1 we examined those issues using a data set from 1980. In that paper, we investigated whether the probability that a boy would be charged with a crime between the ages of 14 and 22 diﬀered as between three alternate family structures: (1) mother and father together; (2) mother and no man present; and (3) mother and some other man present, be it stepfather or boyfriend. We reported that both the ﬁrst and second categories had preferred outcomes in terms of lower probabilities of being charged with a crime as compared with the third. Those ﬁndings implied that the primary factor leading to a boy’s delinquent behaviour was not so much the presence...
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