Paternal Incarceration and Kin Support: Understanding Contradictions Between Perceived and Actual Financial Support

Angela Bruns , University of Michigan Population Studies Center

Paternal incarceration has been shown to exacerbate economic hardships for families. Although families may need financial support from kin during this financially destabilizing time, some research indicates that paternal incarceration diminishes the availability of support. Research in this area has focused on perceptions of support, but no study has examined actual support received. I use data from Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (N = 2,702) to show that paternal incarceration increases mother’s likelihood of receiving financial support. This provides encouraging evidence that mothers can rely on kin during paternal incarceration but stands in contrast to previous research. Thus, I also examine reasons for this seeming contradiction between mothers’ perceptions of support and the support they actually receive. Results suggest that mothers connected to incarcerated fathers may exhaust support, or receive financial support that eventually runs out.

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 Presented in Session 8. Economy, Labor Force, Education, & Inequality