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Event Summary

Recent research by W. Bradford Wilcox indicates that high school students whose fathers were involved in their lives were 98 percent more likely to graduate from college than their peers with uninvolved fathers. On Wednesday, scholars, students, and fatherhood and welfare experts convened at AEI to discuss the important role paternal involvement plays in completing a college degree, which is an increasingly critical ticket to the American middle class.

Patrick Patterson, manager of President Obama’s National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse, described how his father’s departure from Patterson’s life led to a marked drop-off in his academic performance, and how that experience has informed his work with the Fatherhood Clearinghouse. The Manhattan Institute’s Kay Hymowitz underscored Wilcox’s finding that college-educated parents are more likely to be involved in their children’s lives, and argued that addressing this disparity is essential to economic mobility. Richard Yoder, a first-year Jefferson Scholar at the University of Virginia, revealed research showing that almost all of his fellow Jefferson Scholars have indicated high levels of father involvement.

The ensuing discussion focused on the government’s role in shifting public policy and cultural change to boost fathers’ involvement in their children’s lives. Wilcox concluded that the elimination of marriage penalties embedded in public assistance programs could promote family stability and that public media campaigns could play an important role in communicating the importance of father involvement.
–Elizabeth Bell

Event Description

Thousands of aspiring scholars nationwide are making decisions about their college plans for next year. But their success in completing a degree from the college of their choice may hinge disproportionately on one little-discussed factor: whether their fathers were involved in their lives.

This event will explore the extent to which father involvement is tied to an increasingly critical milestone in young adults’ lives: graduation from college. Join a diverse group of panelists — including sociologists, education experts, and students — for a discussion of how public policy and culture can help families lay a firmer foundation for their children’s educational success, and of how the effects of paternal involvement vary by socioeconomic background.

If you are unable to attend, we welcome you to watch the event live on this page. Full video will be posted in 24 hours.


11:45 AM
Registration and Lunch

12:00 PM
Opening Remarks:
Robert Doar, AEI

12:05 PM
Panel Remarks:
Kay Hymowitz, Manhattan Institute
Patrick Patterson, ICF International
W. Bradford Wilcox, AEI and University of Virginia
Richard Yoder, University of Virginia

12:40 PM
Panel Discussion
Robert Doar, AEI

1:00 PM
Question-and-Answer Session

1:30 PM

Event Contact Information

For more information, please contact Brad Wassink at [email protected], 202.862.7197.

Media Contact Information

For media inquiries, please contact [email protected], 202.862.5829.

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