Fathers’ Involvement with Nonresident Children: Comparing Estimates from the American Time Use Survey and National Survey of Family Growth

Betsy Thorn, University of Maryland
Brittany S. McGill, University of Maryland

Children are increasingly likely to live apart from their fathers for some period of time during their childhoods. Previous research suggests that high quality interaction with nonresident fathers is beneficial to children, but the limitations of many surveys - including potentially biased samples, biased third-party reporting of father involvement, and overly-general questions about father involvement - make it difficult to assess the level of involvement fathers have with nonresident children. We examine the data available in two surveys with very different methodologies: the American Time Use Survey and the National Survey of Family Growth. We ask how involved fathers are with their nonresident children; what characteristics are correlated with higher levels of involvement; and how well the two surveys compare in estimating nonresident father involvement. Preliminary results suggest that nonresident fathers are under-represented in the ATUS, but in general, reported levels of nonresident father involvement are higher in the NSFG.

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Presented in Poster Session 1