Kristin Turney University of California, Irvine

The rapid growth of incarceration in the United States, a phenomenon characterized by its concentration among already marginalized individuals, means that a historically unprecedented number of children experience parental incarceration. This project will examine how paternal incarceration is linked to childhood inequalities in the United States. The investigator will collect and analyze longitudinal primary data (multiple interviews with mothers and children) from 100 families in California to investigate inequalities in the academic, behavioral, and social outcomes between children with incarcerated parents in comparison to those without such parents. This project will contribute to knowledge about paternal incarceration and inequalities among children. By considering the processes that unfold during and after incarceration, the research documents the short- and long-term consequences of paternal incarceration for children?s wellbeing. Also, by considering the differences across families that are affected by paternal incarceration, the study explores for which children paternal incarceration is most consequential.

This project examines the complex and countervailing consequences of paternal incarceration for the intergenerational transmission of inequality. The study will, theoretically and empirically, contribute to our understanding of paternal incarceration and the intergenerational transmission of inequality. The research considers the dynamic nature of incarceration, as well as the processes that unfold during and after incarceration. It also considers heterogeneity by developmental stage, individual characteristics, and children?s risk of experiencing paternal incarceration. By considering family, school, and neighborhood mechanisms that may be strategic points of policy and practice interventions, the research documents how paternal incarceration is deleterious for children. This project will inform effective policy and practice interventions to alleviate inequality. By moving beyond an examination of the average causal effects of paternal incarceration, and by considering the nuances inherent in the intergenerational consequences of paternal incarceration, the project has implications for social policies and interventions. For example, understanding the dynamic relationship between paternal incarceration and children?s developmental trajectories will provide guidance about when and how long to intervene. Also, understanding heterogeneity in the consequences of paternal incarceration across population subgroups will provide an understanding about which children most need and will most benefit from interventions and, therefore, provide guidance about how to allocate resources. Finally, understanding the role of social contexts (e.g., families, schools, and neighborhoods) will provide direction about how to most successfully intervene.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Social and Economic Sciences (SES)
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Marie Cornwall
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University of California Irvine
United States
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