Children with involved fathers are significantly more likely to earn a college diploma.
Delaware Fatherhood and Family Coalition - Monday, May 18, 2015
I recently read an article on American Enterprise Institute website aei.org by W. Bradford Wilcox, associate professor in the department of sociology at the University of Virginia. Teenagers with involved fathers are significantly more likely to graduate from college. Specifically, compared to their peers whose fathers are not involved, young adults with involved fathers were at least 98 percent more likely to graduate from college.
Wilcox offered four possible reasons why paternal involvement is linked with a college degree.
- Involved fathers may provide their children with homework help or other knowledge that helps them become academically successful.
- Involved fathers help children stay on the right track and steer away from risky behaviors that could prevent them from completing college.
- Involved fathers also help to create an authoritative family environment conducive to learning.
- Involved fathers may be more likely to support their children financially.
Bradford stated in his conclusion that in today’s global economy, a college diploma has emerged as an increasingly important ticket to achieving the American Dream. Among today’s millennials between ages 25 and 32, every year college graduates earn on average about $17,500 more than their peers with only a high school diploma. A recent Brookings Institution study found that, over a lifetime, a college degree provides an income premium of about $570,000—what this study calls a “tremendous return” on this education investment.
This brief shows that young men and women with involved fathers are significantly more likely to earn a college diploma. Specifically, compared to their peers whose fathers are not involved, young adults with involved fathers were at least 98 percent more likely to graduate from college. Moreover, paternal involvement is especially prevalent among young adults from college–educated homes, and these young adults are also more likely to live in an intact family. This means that young adults from such homes tend to be triply advantaged: they typically enjoy more economic resources, an intact family, and an involved father.
The good news about paternal involvement is that fathers have almost doubled the average amount of time they spend with their children each week, from 4.2 hours in 1995 to 7.3 hours in 2011. The bad news is that partly because fewer adolescents are living in intact, married families, a large minority of the nation’s teens—especially ones from poor and working-class homes—are not experiencing today’s ethic of engaged fatherhood. Thus, if we wish to increase the odds that all young adults have a shot at the higher education of their choice and—by extension—the American Dream, one thing we need to do is figure out how to bridge the fatherhood divide between children from college-educated and less-educated families.