Nonresident father involvement and adolescent well-being: Father effects or child effects?

Daniel N. Hawkins, Paul R. Amato, Valarie King

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

120 Scopus citations


Is active fathering by nonresident fathers a cause or a consequence of adolescent well-being? Past studies of nonresident father involvement assume a father effects model in which active parenting by fathers improves adolescent adjustment. A child effects model, in which fathers respond to levels of well-being among their adolescent offspring by becoming more or less involved parents, could also account for the positive association between active fathering and adolescent adjustment. We use nationally representative data from the 1995 and 1996 waves of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health) to estimate the cross-lagged associations between nonresident father involvement and the externalizing problems, internalizing problems, and academic achievement of 3,394 adolescents. Contrary to assumptions from a socialization perspective and findings from past research on nonresident fathers, our results do not support a father effects model. Our data are more consistent with a child effects model in which levels of adolescent well-being cause, rather than result from, levels of nonresident father involvement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)990-1010
Number of pages21
JournalAmerican sociological review
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science


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