Exploring Changes in the Father's Role and its Association with Child Outcomes in Mongolia
Background. Over the last three decades, Mongolia has experienced the effects of dramatic macro-environmental changes with implications on the lives of Mongolians. One area of concern is the influence of broader societal changes on family life and child well-being. This study explores the changing father’s role and its association with child outcomes in Mongolia. Objectives. 1) To explore patterns of father presence and engagement with children under age five between 2000 and 2013 and 2) identify whether the father’s role is associated with illness and education outcomes in children aged 3-4 years in 2013. Methods. This historical cross-sectional study analyses data from UNICEF’s Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys conducted in 2000, 2005, 2010, and 2013. The first manuscript involves a descriptive analysis of patterns in the point-prevalence of father presence and engagement over time and were described according to various demographic subgroups. Sample sizes ranged from 3547 to 6184 across four time points. The second manuscript examines the father’s role and its association with acute illness and preschool attendance in 2220 children aged 3 and 4 using multivariate regression modelling. Results. Point-prevalence of father presence ranged from 78-83% (Ptrend<.0001) and engagement from 40-49% (Ptrend=0.33) between 2000 and 2013. Fluctuations varied by region of residence. In unadjusted analyses, father presence (OR=1.06; 95% CI 0.72, 1.56) and engagement (OR=1.04; 95% CI 0.95, 1.14) were not associated with acute illness in children. Unadjusted analysis showed that father engagement was associated with preschool attendance (OR=1.12; 95% CI 1.04, 1.20) but was no longer significant after adjusting for demographic factors (OR=0.95; 95% CI 0.88, 1.03). Father presence was not associated with preschool attendance in either unadjusted (OR=0.79; 95% CI 0.60, 1.04) or adjusted analyses (OR=0.91; 95% CI 0.66, 1.26). Conclusion. Father presence fluctuated at a national and regional level in Mongolia while engagement fluctuated at a regional level from 2000-2013. Despite these fluctuations, the 2013 data suggests that the father’s role is not associated with acute illness and preschool attendance in children aged 3-4. However, we should continue to monitor changes in the father’s role in Mongolia and its relationship with other child outcomes.