Dads Matter: The Taxpayer Cost of Fatherlessness

Executive Summary

Social science research shows engaged fathers are critical for a healthy society. By comparison, fatherlessness creates myriad costs, both social and economic. Studies show that fatherless children do not go as far in school, have more health problems, and are less financially secure as adults. Other studies show fatherless boys are more likely to become men who enter the corrections system. Still more research shows fatherless girls are more likely to become teenage mothers. Both incarceration and teenage pregnancy are strongly associated with the high school dropout rate. These results of fatherlessness are a tragedy for children, and taxpayers often bear the financial costs. More than 250,000 Mississippi children live in fatherless homes. This means fatherlessness is a problem taxpayers cannot afford to ignore. The Mississippi Office of the State Auditor compiled research to show how the costs of fatherlessness affect taxpayers and all Mississippians.

Fatherlessness costs taxpayers due to increased incarceration rates.

Fatherless children—particularly boys—are more likely to be incarcerated as children and adults than their peers with present fathers. This report estimated the number of fatherless male prisoners in Mississippi through research on fatherlessness, dropout rates, and incarceration rates. Research shows 70% of high school dropouts come from fatherless homes.7 Further, approximately 80% of incarcerated people are high school dropouts,8 and, as of 2021 in Mississippi, approximately 90% of incarcerated people are males.9 This means nearly 9,800 imprisoned men—roughly 50% of Mississippi’s prison population—likely come from a fatherless home.


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