National estimates find approximately 13% of young adults ages 18-24 report that their biological father has served time in jail or prison (Foster and Hagan, 2009). Yet a recent review of existing literature by Murray and Farrington (2008) found no existing studies examining a possible link between paternal incarceration and substance abuse. Using panel data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health, we examine trajectories of marijuana and hard drug use from adolescence into young adulthood. Results indicate that having a father ever incarcerated (FEI) is significantly associated with increased marijuana and hard drug use among both males and females. We find that father's incarceration is also associated with differences in trajectories of marijuana and hard drug use, with variations occurring by both sex and drug type. These findings are robust to controls for a wide range of background characteristics, including childhood abuse, family structure, mother's history of alcoholism or heavy drinking, low self-control, peer drug use, race, neighborhood poverty, and being arrested as a juvenile. Accordingly, this paper provides some of the first direct evidence that paternal incarceration is associated with increased marijuana and hard drug use as young males and females transition into adulthood. (Author abstract)
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