JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) – State Auditor Shad White said fatherlessness in Mississippi is one of the root causes of some of the state’s most pressing issues and it’s costing taxpayers hundreds of millions each year.
We talk about Mississippi being 50th in this or 50th in that. We’re going to see that some of the root causes are right here in homes when those homes are not made homes,” White said.
Some of those areas Mississippi ranks among the lowest in the country: health care, education, economy, and infrastructure. White said two of those low rankings are caused by nearly 250,000 Mississippi children who don’t have dads.
“Kids who grow up without an engaged dad in their home are five times more likely to end up in poverty, they’re nine times more likely to drop out of school, they’re 20 times more likely to end up in prison,” White explained.
But how does it hurt the state economy? In a report back in 2022, White said that there were close to 10,000 inmates in Mississippi prisons who didn’t have fathers. As a result, the state spends over $180 million each year on those inmates alone.
“We have the generational curse that is going to continue. What’s gonna happen when this kid gets older, what’s the chances of them going on to college and being successful, very low,” Jack Brewer, Chair of America First Policy Institute Center, explained.
And while that isn’t always the case, White said 70% of high school dropouts come from fatherless homes and that will cost over $290,000 in a person’s lifetime in the state.
“If you need extra classes to get caught up, or you drop out, and you need to go through a GED course to get caught up, that’s going to cost the taxpayers money,” White said.
But leaders don’t think this trend will change with just legislation. It’s going to take a societal shift to bridge the gaps.
“If we can get more people to actually mentor or follow this population, in give them some of that love after school or on the weekends, whether it’s sports programs or other activities, I think you’ll see a huge impact on some of the issues you have in Mississippi and across the country,” Brewer explained.
Brewer and White said they met with state leaders Wednesday to discuss some of the ways fatherlessness in Mississippi can be attacked through the legislature.