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This study investigates the effects of the presence or absence of the father in the home in two samples of New York City families: a sample of 1000 Welfare AFDC families and a subsample of lower-middle income families from a random cross-section sample. The effects of natural fathers, surrogate fathers and absent fathers were examined for mothers and their children, respectively. The variables included measures derived from mothers' home interviews: 18 child behavior factors and 13 familial factors. The results indicate that children of surrogate fathers revealed significantly more behavioral difficulties than those reported for children living with natural fathers and for children with no father in the home. The effect of father absence as well as the effect of the presence of a father surrogate in the home were found to differ within the two samples studied. While children in both samples were found to benefit from the presence of both natural parents in the home, cross-section children and mothers were more adversely affected by father absence than Welfare children. Implications of these findings are discussed with reference to the role of the poor family in sustaining intergenerational patterns of economic inequality.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2224/sbp.1982.10.1.11

Publication date: January 1, 1982

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