Father-child contact after separation: evidence from German Panel data

Heike Trappe, Universität Rostock
Michaela Kreyenfeld, Hertie School of Governance
Katja Köppen, Universität Rostock

With the increase in separation and divorce rates, non-resident fathers have become a growing group in all European countries. The contact that these fathers keep with their children is a policy relevant issue which has been intensively addressed in previous research for English-speaking countries. For continental Europe, there has been far less research on this topic. In this paper, we use data from the German Family Panel (pairfam) to study the determinants of father-child contact after separation. We particularly investigate how fathers’ partnership history affects the contact that men have with children from prior unions. Taking into account socio-economic characteristics, custody and child support arrangements, we find that union context and custody arrangement at first birth are the most important factors which impact the frequency of contact between non-resident fathers and their minor children. Further analyses will capitalize on the panel structure of data that gives longitudinal information on father-child contact over seven consecutive years. Here we explore how changes in the partnership domain of the father’s life course impact father-child contact. Our data structure allows us to investigate whether findings are robust when individually specific heterogeneity is accounted for.

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Presented in Session 45: Parent-child relationship