Maurice V. Russell Professor of Social Policy and Social Work Practice
Director, Center for Research on Fathers, Children, and Family Well-Being
Past Research: Professor Mincy’s past research has focused on the effects of policies and programs on the roles that young, disadvantaged (especially Black) men play as fathers and workers. Two recently published studies, supported by the Ford Foundation (with Dupree, and with Carlson, Garfinkel, McLanahan, and Wendell Primus), counter the conventional wisdom by showing that higher welfare benefits are associated with more—not less—involvement of unmarried fathers in the lives of their children and partners, if one broadens the definition of families to include unmarried parents not living in co-residential unions. Income pooling by these fragile families can result in increased visiting by non-resident fathers. However, higher welfare benefits do not encourage cohabiting fathers to marry the mothers of their children, because it is more difficult for married couples to conceal income-pooling. Two other recent papers examine the effects of child support enforcement policies on paternity establishment, child support compliance, and father involvement. One paper (with Nepomnyaschy and Garfinkel) uses city-level data to show that unwed fathers are more likely to establish paternity for their children if they live in jurisdictions with more aggressive in-hospital paternity establishment programs and that establishing paternity in the hospital increases visitation. A second paper (with Huang and Garfinkel) shows that the child support obligations faced by low-income fathers are so high that they, in fact, reduce compliance.
Present Research: Current research, funded by the Ford Foundation, is intended to show that despite lower response rates, data reported by fathers in the Fragile Families and Child Well-being Study is indispensable for studies of important policy questions and that multiple imputation (MI) techniques can be used to recover missing father data. One paper in progress (with Hill and Sinkewicz), using MI to recover missing data on fathers’ earnings and its determinants, finds that transitions to marriage have no significant causal effect on the earnings of disadvantaged, unmarried, and disproportionately Black fathers, after accounting for selection. The paper also suggests that ‘differencing,’ the primary way studies control for selection in this literature, may lead to biased estimates of the marriage differential. A second study (with Meadows, Garfinkel, and McLanahan) uses MI and latent growth curve models to examine the effects of union transitions on the age-earnings profiles of unmarried fathers.Future Research: Mincy is a co-principal investigator (with Garfinkel, McLanahan, and Brooks-Gunn) on the recently-awarded grant form NICHD that is supporting collection of the 6th wave of data for the Fragile Families and Child Well-being Study, when the focal children become pre-adolescents (around age 9). He plans to use these data for follow-up studies of the earnings trajectories of unmarried fathers and the effects of union transitions (especially marriage) on earnings trajectories. He also plans to seek support from the Administration for Children and Families to study child support, visitation, and health trajectories of unmarried fathers, and the effects of re-partnering by mothers or fathers on these trajectories. Mincy also plans to study the effects of visitation and child support payments by fathers on mothers re-partnering and on fathers’ subsequent fertility. Finally, Mincy plans to evaluate a program that equips non-resident fathers to reduce violence, substance abuse, and early sexual debut among their early adolescent sons (ages 8-12).
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