The Demography of People Who Do Not Know Their Fathers

Ulrich O. Mueller, University of Marburg

Fathers’ absence from their children varies greatly. Standardized surveys provide unambiguous documentation about only the most extreme form of paternal absenteeism, namely “father unknown”. This level of father absence is rare, perhaps 1 to 2% in developed societies. The demography of such individuals – development; education and occupation; mating, marriage and separation; reproduction; health and mortality – can either be studied in case-control studies with great selectivity of cases, or in large cumulative general social surveys datasets. Seemingly only the German General Social Survey ALLBUS provides such information. Analyses show that such offspring do not differ in education or occupation from others, but are twice as likely to be single, less healthy and to have smaller families. They are also more likely to prefer to be single. They may even have higher mortality. Men are not more often, but are more severely affected by fathers’ absence than are women.

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Presented in Poster Session 7