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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Role of Ethnicity in Father Absence and Children’s School Enrollment in Guatemala

  • Author(s): Ishida, Kanako
  • et al.

Despite the historical prevalence of single motherhood in Latin America and its rise in recent years, there is limited knowledge on the magnitude and consequences of father absence as experienced by children. Using a nationally representative sample from the 2002 Guatemalan Reproductive Health Survey, this study provides unprecedented documentation on the national prevalence of children’s separate living arrangements from their biological fathers and nonresident fathers’ paternity establishment and child support payments. Using random-intercept models, this study further demonstrates that father absence has a negative effect on the school enrollment of indigenous children of both sexes and Ladino male children. Increased poverty in father-absent households explains a smaller proportion of this adverse effect on indigenous children, suggesting that their fathers, when present, play a stronger social, rather than economic, role compared to their Ladino counterparts. Finally, child support payments attenuate the negative effects of father absence, particularly among Ladino male children.

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