Does Father Absence Hurt More for Boys than Girls? Evidence from Parental Deaths

Anne Reneflot, Norwegian Institute of Public Health
Svenn-Erik Mamelund, Work Research Institute, Norway

Increasing instability in families, a declining role of marriage, and an increase in single- and step-parent families have raised concern about the possible impacts of childhood family structures on child well-being. Some claim that family disruption is particularly negative to boys due to father absence and the loss of a same-sex role model. This paper examines the long-term consequences of the loss of a same-sex parent on children’s educational outcomes by studying bereaved families. We use a large administrative data set covering Norwegian children born in 1974-79. We examine whether the loss of a same-sex parent through parental death is associated with poorer educational outcomes than the death of a parent of the opposite sex. We also evaluate whether the potential negative effect of the loss of a same-sex parent is moderated by the child’s sex, age at parental death, and the educational and marital status of the remaining parent.

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 Presented in Session P4. Children and Youth/Population and Aging