The Role of Ethnicity in Father Absence and Children’s School Enrollment in Guatemala

Kanako Ishida, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Despite the historical prevalence and recent rise in female headship in Latin America, our knowledge of the magnitude and consequences of father absence as experienced by children has been extremely limited. Using a nationally representative sample from Guatemala, this study fills this gap first by providing descriptive statistics of father absence in children’s households and non-resident fathers’ lack of paternity establishment and child support payments. Subsequently, a series of multi-level logistic regressions establishes a stronger negative effect of father absence on school enrollment for indigenous children than for Ladino children. The increased poverty in father-absent households explains a smaller proportion of this adverse effect for indigenous children, suggesting that the fathers of indigenous children play a stronger social than economic role compared to the fathers of Ladino children. However, child support payments significantly attenuate the negative effects for both ethnic groups.

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Presented in Session 78: Fathers and Children