Understanding the Mechanism Behind the Effects of Maternal Prison and Jail Incarcerations
Rosa M. Cho, Brown University
This study empirically tests three mechanisms commonly suggested to disadvantage youths whose mothers are incarcerated in prison or jail. An event history analysis of school dropout is conducted on a sample of 8,584 adolescents in a large city. Findings reveal that adolescent children are at greater risk of school dropout during the year(s) their mothers are incarcerated, but these effects are not observed to last after her release from prison or jail. Children who are removed from maternal guardianship and placed under paternal guardianship or under the guardianship of a non-relative adult are observed to have lower odds of school dropout than children who remain under maternal guardianship after the mother’s incarceration. Lastly, stigma associated with maternal incarceration is not found to place adolescent children at greater risk of school dropout when controlling for school quality.