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Poverty, Paternal Involvement, and Adolescent Well-Being


Harris, Kathleen Mullan & Marmer, Jeremy K. (1996). Poverty, Paternal Involvement, and Adolescent Well-Being. Journal of Family Issues, 17(5), 614-640.


In this article, we explore the role that parents play in family processes in poor and nonpoor two-parent families and the extent to which paternal participation varies across family income. Using longitudinal data from the National Survey of Children, we observe patterns of poverty over time in childhood and adolescence and examine whether father involvement buffers the effects of poverty on long-term outcomes of adolescents. We measure emotional and behavioral dimensions of parenting and contrast levels of father involvement with levels of mother involvement in their relations with adolescents across poverty experiences. Fathers in poor and welfare families are less involved with youth in adolescence and the greater the persistence of poverty, the less involvement by fathers. Although we document some buffering effects of fathers in poor families, mother involvement plays a more important role in protecting low-income youth from adverse outcomes.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

Journal of Family Issues


Harris, Kathleen Mullan
Marmer, Jeremy K.