MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Absent fathers could cost Mississippi taxpayers more than $700 million for current and future spending, according to State Auditor Shad White.
In a new report released Monday, White said the research looking at data from across the state showed taxpayers are on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars when fathers are not around for their children.
According to the report, children with absent fathers are less likely to obtain a high school degree. White said taxpayers likely lost $560 million due to those children dropping out of school in the 2021-2022 school year alone.
White said boys with absent fathers are more likely to go to prison, costing taxpayers in the state about $180 million to house those boys.
The report said girls with absent fathers are more likely to have children as teens, costing state taxpayers more than $50 million in 2019 for things like increased foster care.
“Mississippians know that engaged fathers are critical for the well-being of children,” said White in a news release. “The added discipline and income that comes from two committed parents is important for everyone to understand. But it’s particularly important for taxpayers to understand, because they often bear the cost of broken homes.”
“I have single mothers in my own family, and they worked tirelessly to raise their children. This report doesn’t take away from their herculean efforts,” White continued. “But men—and taxpayers—in Mississippi need to see the sad results when dads do not show up for their kids.”
White said the Office of the State Auditor identified the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) as a program combat the issue of absent fathers, according to an August 2020 report. He said in Jackson Public Schools, nearly 100% of JROTC students obtain a high school diploma despite a 75% district-wide graduation rate.
The full report can be found here.