Yes, There's a Black Fatherhood Crisis

Yes, There's a Black Fatherhood Crisis

ThinkProgress has a post -- "The Myth of the Absent Black Father" -- claiming that the crisis is a "racially-biased" fiction. This Los Angeles Times chart is provided as evidence:

The problem, of course, is the "in similar living situations." When people speak of "father absence," they are mainly referring to the absence of fathers from the home -- that is, father absence is a "living situation." The assertion here is that, once you disaggregate by father absence, there's no racial gap in father absence.

The piece concedes that "black fathers are more likely to live separately from their children" but claims that "many of them remain just as involved in their kids' lives." "Many" is a versatile word, but nonetheless the supporting evidence is rather weak: For example, 67 percent of black fathers who don't live with their kids, and 59 percent of white fathers in the same situation, see their kids at least once a month. Much stronger evidence on the importance of living with one's kids can be found in the chart above: There is no comparison between resident dads and nonresident dads -- of any race -- on even one of the metrics.

The CDC report the chart is based on provides the missing data on fathers' absence from the home:

Non-Hispanic white men aged 15–44 had the largest difference between those with coresidential children (37%) and those with noncoresidential children (8.2%). The difference was smallest among non-Hispanic black men, with 33% having coresidential children and 24% having noncoresidential children. Among Hispanic men, more than twice as many had coresidential children (44%) than had noncoresidential children (18%).

The math is tricky because some men have coresidential and noncoresidential kids, but the ratio of men with the former to men with the latter is 4.5:1 for whites, 2.4:1 for Hispanics, and just 1.4:1 for blacks.

It's certainly valuable to know that there's no racial gap once you divide fathers into these two groups. But the relative size of those two groups is the most important thing, and on this there is an enormous racial gap.

Robert VerBruggen is editor of RealClearPolicy. Twitter: @RAVerBruggen

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