Do Fathers Matter?: Paternal Mortality and Children’s Long-Run Outcomes

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Abstract
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.
Year of Publication
2017
Number
609
Date Published
03/2017
Publication Language
eng
Citation Key
9971
URL
Working Papers