Report: Fathers Affect Kids’ College Success

Report: Fathers Affect Kids’ College Success
May 2, 2014

Joy Pullmann

Joy Pullmann is a research fellow on education policy for The Heartland Institute and managing... (read full bio)

High school students whose fathers are involved in their lives are far more likely to earn a college degree than those whose fathers are not, explains a new policy brief. Because dad’s involvement with their kids is lower in poor families and in broken families, the kids who need a dad’s assistance don’t have him, says report author W. Bradford Wilcox.

“Compared to teens who reported that their fathers were not involved, teens with involved fathers were 98 percent more likely to graduate from college, and teens with very involved fathers were 105 percent more likely to graduate from college,” the report says. Wilcox calculated those numbers using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health and controlling for socioeconomic background.

The survey asks teens if fathers do things with them such as help with homework, talk about personal problems, or play a sport. Wilcox found that intact families were those most likely to have involved fathers, and the most involved fathers are married to mothers with a college education.

Learn more:
“Dad and the Diploma: The Difference Fathers Make for College Graduation,” W. Bradford Wilcox, American Enterprise Institute, April 2014: http://www.aei.org/files/2014/04/22/-dad-and-the-diploma_093749855343.pdf.

—Staff Reports

Image by Stacy Brunner.

Joy Pullmann

Joy Pullmann is a research fellow on education policy for The Heartland Institute and managing... (read full bio)