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How does paternal incarceration affect children’s cognitive and noncognitive development?

Nearly one in every 100 adults in the United States is in prison or jail, and an additional one in 50 is under probation or on parole. Extensive research has documented the longand short-term, direct and indirect consequences of this mass incarceration for the imprisoned individual or former inmate, and a quickly growing literature examines potential extended effects of incarceration on families and communities. The number of school-age children in the United States with incarcerated or formerly incarcerated parents was recently estimated at over 32 million, or about one in every 28 schoolchildren. The work summarized in this article adds to previous work on the effects of paternal incarceration on school-age children using newly available longitudinal data to assess the negative effects of a father’s incarceration on child mental health, socioemotional development, and cognitive skills, focusing especially on 9-year-olds.


Child Development & Well-Being, Children, Incarceration, Justice System