The Effect of Incarceration on Fathers' Health

Marah A. Curtis, Boston University

This paper utilizes the nationally representative Fragile Families and Child Well-Being longitudinal data to examine the impact of incarceration on fathers’ health. Fathers with poor health are more likely to have labor market difficulties, excessive expenses and may be forced to make trade-offs between medications and other goods. Research confirms that fathers who have been incarcerated face markedly more barriers in terms of labor market opportunities and family formation (Geller, Garfinkel & Western, 2006; Western, Lopoo & McLanahan, 2004; Curtis, 2006). Multivariate regression is used to examine the impact of incarceration on the health of fathers controlling for substance use, previous health/mental health status, impulsivity, education, race/ethnicity, marital status and age. If, however, incarceration and health are jointly determined by observed or unobserved factors, standard regression estimates will be biased. Thus, an instrumental variables approach will also be tested.

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Presented in Session 92: Family Context and Health Outcomes for Parents and Children