Research finds that children who have experienced the incarceration of a parent exhibit higher levels of antisocial behavior. Yet there are reasons to question whether this association is in fact causal, and research that empirically pins down mechanisms that explain any observed association is in high demand. We attempt to better account for unobserved heterogeneity by using children with fathers who will be incarcerated as a strategic comparison group. In addition, we look at two different outcomes in an effort to make inferences about why paternal incarceration may influence delinquency. Results suggest that the association between paternal incarceration and instrumental forms of crime (e.g., theft) is entirely spurious, although paternal incarceration retains a significant effect on expressive crimes (e.g., destruction of property, fighting). (Author abstract)
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