Identity Salience and Involvement among Resident and Nonresident Fathers

Goldberg, Julia S.
Working paper no. 2011-06


The literature on father involvement suggests that the value men ascribe to the father role is important for understanding their involvement with their children, yet this theory has received only limited empirical attention. Using data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (N = 3,554), I examined the association between fathers’ identity salience reported at their child’s birth and their involvement (accessibility, engagement, and responsibility) when their child was about 1, 3, and 5 years old, carefully considering the role played by fathers’ residence status. I found that fathers’ identity salience predicted future levels of engagement net of a large number of fathers’ characteristics, and that fathers with high identity salience were more likely to reside with their child, which facilitated their involvement. These results suggest that programs designed to enhance the salience of the father role would be useful for teaching men to become more involved fathers.