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Some years ago a study was conducted among Peace Corps volunteers. Researchers took a random sample of volunteers and split them into two roughly equal groups: those who completed their tour commitments and those who returned home early because of "problems of adjustment and conduct (including psychiatric terminations)."

Unlike many studies, this one was nearly unaffected by the volunteers’ race or socioeconomic background. Almost all of them were college graduates from white, middle-class families. The study did not differentiate between reasons for father absence, "psycological" instead of physical absence, age at separation, or other father figures who may have stepped in. So an "absent" father was said to be one who was away from the child’s residence, for whatever reason, during at least the child’s tenth through fifteenth years.

The results were startling. Of the people who completed their duties, 9 percent came from absent-father backgrounds; but among those who came home early, 44 percent had absent fathers. The study was repeated, and again there was a wide gap of difference: 14 percent and 44 percent.

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