Multi-Partnered Fertility and the Criminal Justice System

Eirik Evenhouse, Mills College
Siobhan Reilly, Mills College

Multi-partnered fertility is increasingly common in the US. Evidence that it deters marriage, and reduces relationship stability and child wellbeing, is accumulating. We examine the link between men’s involvement with the criminal justice system (as reflected in arrest and incarceration rates) and the likelihood that a woman has children by more than one man. Our analysis exploits variation over time and across localities. Household data are from SIPP, with pooled cross-sections yielding observations on approximately 60,000 mothers over two decades (1985-2004). Arrest and incarceration rates are from FBI Uniform Crime Reports and the Bureau of Justice Statistics, respectively. Control variables include a mother’s individual characteristics (e.g., age, education, and ethnicity) and local factors that vary at the MSA level (e.g., housing costs, and male and female wage and unemployment rates) or state level (e.g., welfare benefits, divorce rates, and the strictness of child support enforcement).

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Presented in Session 67: Policy and Family