Consequences of Incarceration: A Multi-Sample Analysis of Parent Relationship Status, Father Imprisonment, and Race in the United States

Jessica Jakubowski, University of Wisconsin at Madison

The prison system in the United States has undergone a massive expansion over the last three decades. Despite the fact that this prison expansion disproportionately affects black and low-income families, it has remained on the periphery of the discussion of family structure change and instability among these groups. I estimate the association between male partner imprisonment and change in parent relationship status over time using three national datasets: The Fragile Families and Child Well Being Study, The National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979, and the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997. I also give special consideration racial differences in imprisonment and estimate the possible multiplicative effects of race on the association between parent relationship and male imprisonment. Preliminary findings highlight very strong associations between father imprisonment and parent relationship dissolution, but also reveal racial differences in the likelihood of parents staying together after imprisonment.

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Presented in Session 40: Union Dissolution