The effect of genetic vs nongenetic parental care on adult children's income and wealth in later life: An evolutionary analysis

Andrew R. Timming, Michael T. French

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Objective: Using Wave IV of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health data set, this preregistered study set out to investigate the effect of parental care arrangements (eg, genetically related parents, adoptive, step/ foster, genetic nonparental relative, and no parental figure) on adult children's income and wealth in later life. Methods: Consistent with the preregistration plan, multivariate analyses of covariance were first used to examine, separately, the effects of paternal and maternal care arrangements on children's income and wealth in later life. Further post hoc exploratory analyses were carried out to evaluate the robustness of the findings. Results: The results indicate that individual earnings in later life are unrelated to paternal care arrangements, thus questioning a key tenet of kin selection theory. However, children raised by biological fathers and adoptive fathers still enjoy significant economic advantages over nongenetic father figures and homes without fathers in relation to household income and wealth. Conclusions: Prevailing theories suggest that children raised by relatives, nongenetically related parents, and no father or mother suffer from a lack of parental investment that should manifest itself in reduced earnings and assets in adulthood. These theories are only partially correct, with evidence pointing to no deleterious effect of variable parental arrangements on individual earnings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAmerican Journal of Human Biology
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Anthropology
  • Genetics

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