Do Fathers Matter?: Paternal Mortality and Children’s Long-Run Outcomes
Parental mortality is associated with a range of negative child outcomes. This paper studies the eﬀect of paternal mortality on children’s health and schooling outcomes using the universe of veterans’ children born in Croatia, and all of the paternal deaths and injuries resulting from the 1991-1995 Croatian-Serbian war. Using linked administrative data, I ﬁnd large negative eﬀects of paternal death on high-school GPA, school absences, behaviour problems, and hospitalisations. I address potentially non-random selection into paternal death by using within-military unit diﬀerences in the extent of injury or death, essentially assuming that the members of a military unit all had similar probabilities of being killed or injured because they fought in the same battles. I am also able to shed light on an important mechanism underlying the estimated eﬀects. Surviving spouses of those killed or injured were well compensated, so that the death of a father did not have a negative eﬀect on household incomes. I ﬁnd that a death or injury that occurred during the in-utero period has much larger eﬀects than a death or injury in early childhood, suggesting that much of the negative eﬀect is due to maternal stress.
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