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Why do some dads get more involved than others? Evidence from a large British cohort

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Daniel Nettle



Previous studies in developed-world populations have found that fathers become more involved with their sons than with their daughters and become more involved with their children if they are of high socioeconomic status (SES) than if they are of low SES. This paper addresses the idea proposed by Kaplan et al. that this pattern arises because high-SES fathers and fathers of sons can make more difference to offspring outcomes. Using a large longitudinal British dataset, I show that paternal involvement in childhood has positive associations with offspring IQ at age 11, and offspring social mobility by age 42, though not with numbers of grandchildren. For IQ, there is an interaction between father's SES and his level of involvement, with high-SES fathers making more difference to the child's IQ by their investment than low-SES fathers do. The effects of paternal investment on the IQ and social mobility of sons and daughters were the same. Results are discussed with regard to the evolved psychology and social patterning of paternal behaviour in humans.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Nettle D

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Evolution and Human Behaviour

Year: 2008

Volume: 29

Issue: 6

Pages: 416-423.e1

Date deposited: 06/01/2009

ISSN (print): 1090-5138

Publisher: Elsevier


DOI: 10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2008.06.002


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