Baker, Garrett (2023). Shattered Dreams: Paternal Incarceration, Youth Expectations, and the Intergenerational Transmission of Disadvantage. Sociological Science.
vol. 10 (20)
Children’s expectations and aspirations have a substantial effect on a variety of life course outcomes, including their health, education, and earnings. However, little research to date has considered empirically how expectations and aspirations are shaped by adverse events—such as experiencing a parent be incarcerated. In this article, I leverage Add Health’s retrospective parental incarceration questions to employ an innovative analytic strategy that accounts for selection bias and unobserved heterogeneity above and beyond typical observational methods. Results indicate that paternal incarceration is associated with one-fourth to one-third of a standard deviation lower youth expectations and aspirations, and these results are robust to various methods and specifications. Given that paternal incarceration is both common and disproportionately experienced by disadvantaged youth, the large magnitude and robust nature of these results reveal an important pathway through which mass incarceration has contributed to the intergenerational transmission of inequality in the U.S. in recent decades.
September 19, 2023