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When fathers are gone: the consequences of paternal absence during the early years

Julieta Vera Rueda
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Julieta Vera Rueda: PSE - Paris School of Economics - ENPC - École des Ponts ParisTech - ENS-PSL - École normale supérieure - Paris - PSL - Université Paris sciences et lettres - UP1 - Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - INRAE - Institut National de Recherche pour l’Agriculture, l’Alimentation et l’Environnement, PJSE - Paris Jourdan Sciences Economiques - UP1 - Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne - ENS-PSL - École normale supérieure - Paris - PSL - Université Paris sciences et lettres - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - ENPC - École des Ponts ParisTech - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - INRAE - Institut National de Recherche pour l’Agriculture, l’Alimentation et l’Environnement

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Abstract: I examine the causal effect of paternal absence during the first years of life on early childhood development. I take advantage of Young Lives study, a unique panel dataset including skill outcomes of pairs of siblings with different levels of paternal involvement. With a difference in difference approach, I first compare the younger sibling exposed to the father's absence in the early years versus the older one exposed at age 5. Then, I control for the gap in skills between siblings living in households with no absence. Results show that paternal absence in the early years leads to a relative worsening in nutritional outcomes when 5 years old. The gap persists when 8 and 12 years old, with no evidence of cumulative effects. On the contrary, younger siblings relatively outperform their older counterparts in cognition in Peru and Vietnam, sta tistically significant for the former country. These findings are consistent with critical windows for ability development during the first 1,000 days of life. I find support for this conclusion as I observe no strong evidence on differences in development when absence occurs at age 5 for the younger and 8 for the older sibling.

Keywords: Early childhood development; Fatherhood; Developing countries (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021-01
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-neu and nep-sea
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