In-hospital paternity establishment and father involvement in fragile families

Ronald Mincy, Irwin Garfinkel, Lenna Nepomnyaschy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


This article assesses the effectiveness of in-hospital paternity establishment, a federal requirement since 1993. We avoid biases in previous studies by using a national sample of nonmarital births (N= 3,254), by including detailed controls for characteristics of unwed mothers and previously unavailable controls for characteristics of fathers, and by estimating reduced form models of the effects of strong paternity establishment regimes. We find that paternity establishment rates are now quite high - 69% - and that 6 of 7 paternities are established in the hospital. Even after controlling for previously unavailable characteristics, establishing paternity (in and outside the hospital) is significantly and positively associated with formal and informal child support payments and father-child visitation. These results hold up in the reduced form models.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)611-626
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Marriage and Family
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2005
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


  • Child support
  • Father involvement
  • Fragile families
  • Paternity establishment
  • Unwed parents


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