Study Claims Teen Daughters Unaffected By Lack of Father

So, long story short: A study by the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, helmed by director Deborah Cobb-Clark, states that while teenage boys without fathers are more likely to turn to crime, teen girls are unaffected.

And as the studies always find, having an involved dad is great, but just having a dad in the home cuts down boys’ involvements in criminal and delinquent activity.

Wait, wait, wait. But…what about daughters?

Cobb-Clark and company used data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, concluded that “females may be less sensitive to the increasing trend towards non-marital childbearing, divorce and remarriage.”

Just for the sake of argument, here’s one solitary fact on daughters and fatherlessness, ripped straight from the National Fatherhood Initiative, widely regarded as the authority on the subject:

A study of 13,986 women in prison showed that more than half grew up without their father. Forty-two percent grew up in a single-mother household and sixteen percent lived with neither parent.

Granted, that’s a study from the 1990s, but it’s pretty damning when put up against the claim that daughters aren’t affected by the absence of a father.

So you can run and tell that, Cobb-Clark.

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Author: Zach Rosenberg View all posts by
is married and has one son. He's a gamer and world-class unicorn wrangler. You should follow him on Instagram. You can also find his writing on The Good Men Project and The Huffington Post, and HLN.
  • I don’t buy that study for a MOMENT! There’s an agenda working there without a doubt!

    • And they didn’t do their OWN study – they interpreted data from someone else’s study, so you don’t know what is or isn’t represented within that. Either way, it sounds suspect.

  • There isn’t anything to compare that to. You can’t take a study of prisoners to determine whether teen girls need fathers without a study of teen girls that are successful and NOT in prison to compare it with. If half of the prisoners are from homes with no fathers than that means the other half are from 2 parent homes or no parent homes. Could we then also say that teens raised in 2 parent homes are just as likely to end up in prison also?

    I would never say a mother or a father is not needed, I will say that generalizing is not reliable. How then will we categorize women raised by two women or men raised by two men? Or teens raised by grandparents. Children and teens need people that love and care for them and teach them, regardless of gender. And you wouldn’t consider a study by the National Fatherhood Initiative to be even a little biased? It works both ways.

    • Good points! Generalizing is kind of the business of studies, so unfortunately that’s what we’re working with. And you’re right – we can’t get an accurate picture of results without another study from another opposite group – the successful women. And, I’d go further to say that regionally, there’s probably a difference in effects as well. In some areas, depending on political climate and typical family structure, you’d find gender relations to be different – and thus, could have a different outcome on how someone operates without one parent.

      The National Fatherhood Initiative actually didn’t do the study – I didn’t cite the real study, which I should have done, instead of the NFI. The real source is:

      “Snell, Tracy L and Danielle C. Morton. Women in Prison: Survey of Prison Inmates, 1991. Bureau of Justice Statistics Special Report. Washington, DC: US Department of Justice, 1994: 4.”

      Thanks for your comments! I think we’re entering in a new era of gender studies and seeing how kids “end up” from different families. As well, the stigma of single-parent and gay-couple families is reducing. And as you mentioned, this study (as well as most!) are to be taken as-is. Don’t take it personally though – trends and “likelihoods” shouldn’t discourage any great job you’re doing – I’m guessing from your URL that you’re a strong single parent! Good for you and keep up the good work! Don’t let a study tell you how your kids will turn out – but be mindful of what the studies say.

  • Everyone is making great points here. I find it hard to swallow that the father factor has no impact on teen girls, but maybe they need to distinguish father from father figure. In other words, I wonder how “girls from homes without fathers but HAD the presence of a positive male role model” would compare to “girls from homes without fathers but did NOT have the presence of a positive male role model”. For many girls, fathers and father figures become the template of a man. It teaches us how to love and be loved by a man. For heterosexual girls, that’s a huge influence.