Becoming a Dad: Employment Trajectories of Married, Cohabiting, and Nonresident Fathers


  • *Direct correspondence to Christine Percheski, Office of Population Research, Wallace Hall, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08544 〈〉. The authors will share all data and coding materials with those wishing to replicate the study. The authors acknowledge the advice of Sara McLanahan, Devah Pager, Sarah Meadows, and the Fragile Families Working Group. Earlier versions of this artcile were presented at the Eastern Sociological Society and American Sociological Association Annual Conferences. The Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study was supported by Grant R01HD36916 from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. The contents of the article are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.


Objectives. This article considers how becoming a father affects men's employment levels and tests whether the effects of fatherhood differ by the relationship of the father to the child's mother at the time of the birth.

Methods. We use data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study to fit growth curve models of new fathers' employment trajectories for the first five years after they become fathers.

Results. Prior to becoming a father, married men worked more hours per week and more weeks per year than cohabiting and nonresident fathers. By five years after the birth, differences in employment between unmarried and married fathers had diminished.

Conclusions. The transition to fatherhood is associated with an increase in employment for unmarried fathers but is not associated with significant changes in employment for married fathers.