This study was designed to determine whether there are significant differences in academic achievement between father-present and father-absent (due to migrant labor) adolescents. Data were collected from 276 high school students in South Africa. Academic achievement was measured by the Human Sciences Research Council's (HSRC) Scholastic Achievement Test, covering biology, English (second language), and mathematics. Father-present students were found to score significantly higher than father-absent students. The findings suggest that a father's absence due to work conditions has deleterious effects on the scholastic performance of young people.
Migrant labor is common in South Africa. Nattrass (1983) has indicated that the average absentee rate among adult working men in rural areas of African homelands exceeds 50%. Because so many fathers have had to leave their families to seek work in urban areas, educators and school psychologists have expressed concern about the repercussions for academic achievement among South African children. Consequently, the present study was designed to compare the school performance of father-present and father-absent adolescents.
A number of studies have shown that developmental deficits occur in children whose fathers are absent from home for a variety of reasons (e.g., imprisonment, military service, hospitalization, desertion, divorce). These include deficiency in sex-role identification (Gershansky, Hailine, & Goldstein, 1978; Hetherington, 1973; Hunt & Hunt, 1975; Shill, 1981; Wohlford & Hunt, 1971), juvenile delinquency (Castellano & Dembo, 1981; Goldstein, 1972; Koller, 1971; Montare …