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ERIC Number: EJ1010102
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013-Feb
Pages: 7
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 45
ISSN: ISSN-0022-2445
Misidentifying the Effects of Parental Incarceration? A Comment on Johnson and Easterling (2012)
Wildeman, Christopher; Wakefield, Sara; Turney, Kristin
Journal of Marriage and Family, v75 n1 p252-258 Feb 2013
In a recent "Journal of Marriage and Family" article, Johnson and Easterling (2012) reviewed research on the effects of parental incarceration on child well-being, focusing on the various conceptual frameworks linking parental incarceration and child well-being and the "important methodological and conceptual challenges related to selection bias" plaguing research in this area. After reviewing 10 relevant studies, Johnson and Easterling reached three conclusions. First, research on the effects of parental incarceration on child well-being is not particularly rigorous, as it has used few methods to diminish the often-substantial concerns about selection bias. Second, on the basis of the one study that found children with imprisoned fathers were no worse off than children of divorced parents (Moerk, 1973), the authors concluded there are good reasons to be skeptical that imprisonment has any effects above and beyond paternal separation more broadly. Finally, on the basis of rigorous studies that "did not" use children of divorced parents as the comparison, the authors concluded that, if there are effects of parental incarceration, it is unclear whether parental incarceration helps or harms child well-being, as the "direction" of average effects varies across studies. In this comment, the authors address the gaps in Johnson and Easterling's (2012) review of the empirical research--gaps they consider sufficiently large that they consider the review to be an inaccurate portrayal of the existing research on the consequences of parental incarceration for child well-being. They first briefly summarize their methodological suggestions for minimizing selection bias, their review of the literature, and their key conclusions. They then introduce 12 relevant studies that were excluded from Johnson and Easterling's review and emphasize how including these studies not only changes the assessment of the methodological rigor of the literature in this area but also leads to substantively different conclusions. (Contains 2 tables.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A