Fathers’ Involvement and Fathers’ Wellbeing Over Children’s First Five Years

Marcia J. Carlson, University of Wisconsin at Madison
Kimberly Turner, University of Wisconsin at Madison

Despite the growing scholarly attention to father involvement, the consequences for men of being fathers have been little explored. Most studies have focused on whether and how father involvement affects children. Yet, since family relationships are dynamic and influence individual-level change, one would expect that fathers’ investments in children--and the affective quality of relationship that results (whether close, distant or contentious)--could potentially affect fathers’ own wellbeing. In this paper, we use data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study with random and fixed effects models to examine how the level of and change in fathers’ involvement with children is associated with men’s own wellbeing with respect to educational attainment, employment, earnings, income, physical health, depression, substance use, religious attendance and whether ever incarcerated. We find notable differences between co-resident and non-resident fathers, and we discuss the implications of our results for future research and public policy.

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Presented in Session 138: Men's Roles in Families and Relationships