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Less College, Less Work, More Prison for Young Men Growing Up Without Their Biological Father


Charlottesville, Virginia, June 17, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — In a new Institute for Family Studies research brief, Brad Wilcox, Wendy Wang, and Alysse ElHage highlight the connections between fatherlessness, family structure, and the increasing number of young men who are floundering in life and who pose a threat to themselves and to their communities.

The new research brief uses the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY97) to explore the association between family structure and three outcomes for young men in the 2000s and 2010s: college completion, idleness, and involvement with the criminal justice system.

The key findings include: 


  • Dads keep their sons on the college track. Young men who grew up with their biological father are more than twice as likely to graduate college by their late-20s, compared to those raised in families without their biological father.
  • Dads discourage idleness in their sons.  Young men who did not grow up with their biological father in an intact family are significantly more likely to be idle in their mid-20s, compared to young men who grew up in an intact family (19% vs. 11%).
  • Dads help keep their sons out of jail. Young men who did not grow up with their biological father are about twice as likely as those raised with their biological father in the household to have spent time in jail by their mid-20s. 

“This IFS brief reveals that young men are much more likely to be flourishing when raised by their own fathers,” said IFS senior fellow Brad Wilcox. “In contrast, young men raised apart from their dads are much more likely to be failing—in school, at work, and with the criminal justice system.”
Go here to read the full research brief. 

For further information, contact: Michael Toscano.


  • Percentage of Young Men Who’ve Been Arrested or Incarcerated, By Father Presence
  • Percentage of Young Men Who Graduated from College at ages 28-34, By Father Presence

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