Improving Data and Research on Male Fertility, Family Formation, and Fatherhood

June, 1998


Foreword by Vice President Al Gore

Preface and Acknowledgments

Chapter 1: Introduction

Chapter 2: Conference on Fathering and Male Fertility: Improving Data and Research

Chapter 3: Male Fertility and Family Formation: Research and Data Needs on The Pathways to Fatherhood

Chapter 4: Social Fatherhood And Paternal Involvement: Conceptual, Data, and Policymaking Issues

Chapter 5: Methodological Issues in Improving Data on Fathers

Chapter 6: Opportunities to Improve Data and Research on Fatherhood


APPENDIX A: Conference Agenda and Working Group Members

APPENDIX B: Integrating Theoretical Perspectives on Gender, Union Formation and Fertility

APPENDIX C: The Meaning of Fatherhood for Men

APPENDIX D: Fertility Motivation, Decision Making, and Intention to Engage in Sex, Contraception, Pregnancy, Abortion and Birth

APPENDIX E: Data and Research Needs Concerning Union Formation and Dissolution

APPENDIX F: Male Fertility in Relation to Union Formation And Dissolution

APPENDIX G: The Biological And Health Aspects of Male Fertility: Implications For Use of Reproductive Health Care Services

APPENDIX H: Data Needs Regarding Male Reproductive Health and Reproductive Health Services

APPENDIX I: Indicators of Male Fertility, Family Formation, and Sexual Behavior

APPENDIX J: Constructs Used in Data Collection

APPENDIX K: Nonresident Fathers: What We Know and What's Left to Learn?

APPENDIX L: New Directions for Exploring Fathers'Attachment to Households

APPENDIX M: Contacts for this Report

Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics

The Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics was founded in 1994. Executive Order No. 13045 formally established it in April 1997, to foster coordination and collaboration in the collection and reporting of Federal data on children and families. Members of the Forum as of Spring 1998 are listed below.
Department of Agriculture 
Food and Nutrition Service 
Office of Analysis and Evaluation 
Alberta C. Frost, Director
Department of Commerce 
Bureau of the Census 
Nancy Gordon 
Associate Director for Demographic Programs  
Department of Defense 
Office of Undersecretary of Defense 
Carolyn H. Becraft 
Deputy Assitant Secretary of Defense
Department of Education 
National Center for Education Statistics 
Pascal D. Forgione, Jr. 
Department of Health and Human Services 
Administration for Children and Families 
Olivia Golden 
Assistant Secretary for Children and Families 
Agency for Health Care Policy and Research 
Lisa Simpson 
Deputy Administrator
Maternal and Child Health Bureau 
Audrey Nora 
National Center for Health Statistics 
Edward Sondik 
National Institute of Child Health and Human Development 
Duane Alexander 
Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation 
Patricia Ruggles 
Deputy Assistant Secretary for Human Services Policy
Department of Housing and Urban Development 
Office of Policy Development and Research 
Paul Leonard 
Acting Assistant Secretary
Department of Justice 
Bureau of Justice Statistics 
Jan Chaiken 
National Institute of Justice 
Sally T. Hillsman 
Deputy Director
Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention 
Shay Bilchik 
Department of Labor 
Bureau of Labor Statistics 
Katharine Abraham 
Women's Bureau 
Ida Castro 
Acting Director
National Science Foundation 
Science Resources Studies Division 
Jeanne E. Griffith 
Office of Management and Budget 
Statistical Policy Office 
Katherine K. Wallman 
Chief Statistician


I am pleased to extend my congratulations to the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics on the publication of NURTURTNG FATHERHOOD: Improving Data and Research on Male Fertility, Family Formation and Fatherhood. This report to the policy, information collection and research communities will have a lasting influence on efforts to understand and foster fathers' active participation in the lives of their children.

In 1994, when I led "Family Re-Union 3: The Role of Men in Children's Lives" in Nashville, Tennessee, little did I realize the great outpouring of time, talent and commitment that soon would be dedicated to the issue of fatherhood. Program practitioners, community leaders, local, state and federal policy makers, and the public and private research community have taken very seriously research findings that the well-being of children is enhanced by the presence of caring and involved fathers and that father absence can have lasting detrimental effects on children's lives.

The Federal Interagency Forum has provided outstanding leadership in developing a public-private partnership to implement President Clinton's request that federal agencies do more to support the role of fathers in families and specifically that fathers be incorporated in government-initiated research regarding children and their families. The publication of NURTURING FATHERHOOD reflects the successful completion of the Forum's efforts to understand what we know through existing research on fathers and families. It is also the beginning of new opportunities to significantly increase our knowledge about fatherhood and the relationship of fertility and family formation to the way men experience fathering.

I believe that all children can benefit from the involved presence of a father in their lives. I commend the member agencies of the Forum, the public and private research community and the public and private funders who have made such an outstanding contribution to our understanding of what we know about fathers' involvement in the lives of children and to what more we need to know. Working together I know that we will m a better world for all of America's children.

Vice President Albert Gore

Preface and Acknowledgments

This report summarizes the presentations and recommendations of the Conference on Fathering and Male Fertility: Improving Data and Research, sponsored by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics, and the NICHD Family and Child Well-being Research Network.

The findings and recommendations presented at the Conference on Fathering and Male Fertility represent the cumulative effort of more than a hundred researchers, policy analysts, and public officials who, over the course of year, thought deeply and creatively about how to improve the information available to society on fathers. This report is being widely disseminated to those agencies of the federal government that conduct and/or fund research on children and families, to the broader research community, to policy makers, to the philanthropic world, and to the media.

The conference, which took place on March 13 and 14, 1997, was the culmination of a remarkable year-long effort to develop an action agenda to improve federal data and research on fathers and on male fertility, involving many of the nation's leading scholars and researchers within and outside of the federal government between March 1996 and March 1997.

Prior to the Conference in March of 1997, a Town Meeting on data needs for policy was sponsored by the Forum and two Conferences were sponsored by the National Institutes for Health and the NICHD Family and Child Well-Being Research Network. One of the conferences focused on qualitative and clinical research and how it could be integrated with data from large scale surveys. The second conference invited scholars from several disciplines to present empirical work, primarily from large scale studies.

Three working groups were also established and charged with developing specific recommendations to improve data and research on fatherhood. The working groups looked specifically at 1) the conceptualization of fatherhood, 2) issues of family formation and male fertility, and 3) methodological challenges. The working groups presented their findings and recommendations at the March 1997 conference. Each group's report is presented in this volume.

A fourth working group was charged with examining the trade-offs and targets of opportunity to improve the federal statisticals system's capacity to gather data on fatherhood based on information from all the review activities and developing a report to the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics. These recommendations were presented to the Forum on October of 1997.

The many individuals whose hard work and enthusiasm made this entire effort possible reflect the strength that building a public/private partnership brings to a complex and multifaceted project. The contributions of the following people are much appreciated:

The NICHD Family and Child Well-being Research Network: Kristin Moore (Child Trends, Inc.), H. Elizabeth Peters (Cornell University), Desmond K. Runyan (University of North Carolina), Jeanne Brooks-Gunn (Columbia University), Greg Duncan (University of Michigan), Jay Teachman (Washington State University), and Arland Thornton (University of Michigan).

Conference Coordination Committee: Christine Bachrach, Jeffrey Evans, Judy Whalen, and Marie Bristol, (NICHD), Kristin Moore and Angela Greene (Child Trends, Inc.), Freya Sonenstein (Urban Institute), Linda Mellgren (ASPE), Anne Benson (Office of Child Support Enforcement/DHHS), Wendy Taylor (OMB), and Gesine Hearn (NICHD Network).

The leadership of the working groups: Randal D. Day, V. Jeffery Evans, and Michael Lamb, co-chairs of the Working Group on Conceptualizing Male Parenting; Christine Bachrach and Freya Sonenstein, co-chairs of the Male Fertility and Family Formation Working Group; Andrew Cherlin and Jeanne Griffith, co-chairs of the Working Group on the Methodology of Research on Fathers; and Linda Mellgren and Wendy Taylor, co-chairs of the Working Group on Trade-Offs and Targets of Opportunity.

The National Center on Fathers and Families/University of Pennsylvania: Vivian Gadsden. The authors of the town meeting and conferences summary report: Angela Dungee Greene, Carol Emig and Gesine Hearn. For managing arrangements and logistics for the meetings and conferences: Gesine Hearn (NICHD Family and Child Well-Being Research Network), Fanette Jones and Sonia Subaran (Child Trends, Inc), Sylvia Ellison NICHD), Anne Benson (OCSE/HHS), and Linda Mellgren (ASPE).

Finally, special thanks go to the Ford Foundation, the Kaiser Family Foundation, and the Annie E. Casey Foundation for their generous contributions to this effort. These private funders worked in partnership with federal agencies to defray conference costs and the costs of preparing and disseminating meeting summaries.

And last, but not least, a very special thank-you to Nancy Hoit, Lisa Mallory, and Beverly Godwin of Vice President Gore's National Partnership for Reinventing Governmentfor their enthusiastic support and to Duane Alexander, Director of NICHD and Ann Rosewater, Counselor to the Secretary and former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Human Services Policy, ASPE and Chair of the DHHS Fathers Work Group, for their leadership and willingness to devote staff resources to the effort.

Where to?

Table of Contents

Home Pages:
HHS' Fatherhood Initiative
Human Service Policy (HSP)
Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE)
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)

Updated 7/28/00