SEARCH

SEARCH BY CITATION

This study measured the likelihood of youth incarceration among adolescent males from father-absent households, using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (N=34,031 person-years). At baseline, the adolescents ranged from 14 to 17 years, and the incarceration outcome measure spanned ages 15 to 30 years. This study tested whether risk factors concentrated in father-absent households explained the apparent effects of father absence. Results from longitudinal event-history analysis showed that although a sizable portion of the risk that appeared to be due to father absence could actually be attributed to other factors, such as teen motherhood, low parent education, racial inequalities, and poverty, adolescents in father-absent households still faced elevated incarceration risks. The adolescents who faced the highest incarceration risks, however, were those in stepparent families, including father–stepmother families. Coresidential grandparents may help attenuate this risk, although remarriage and residential instability increased it. Social policies to support children should broaden beyond an emphasis on marriage to address the risks faced by adolescents living in stepfamilies as well.