A National Sample of U.S. Paternity Tests: Do Parents of Dissimilar Race Have Less Difficulty Surmising Paternity?

David Bishai, Johns Hopkins University
Nan M. Astone, Johns Hopkins University
Laura M. Argys, University of Colorado at Denver
Chris Filidoro, Orchid Genescreen Inc.
Robert Gutendorf, Orchid Genescreen Inc.

Nearly 300,000 paternity tests are performed in the U.S. annually. Our objective is to determine the demographic make up of test subjects and how well ethnic background predicts a paternity inclusion. We formed a national database of 9999 paternity test results weighted to represent the population of paternity establishment caseloads for the U.S. The alleged father was positively matched to the child in 72% of cases. The probability of a match varied little across racial/ethnic categories with a low of 67% in African Americans and a high of 82% among Native Americans. Maternal age increased the likelihood of a match. European origin mothers nominating non-Europeans as fathers were less likely to identify the correct man as father. We conclude that for the average test subject the group mean 72% probability of matching offers nearly as good an estimate as one based on a subject's age, race and child characteristics.

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Presented in Poster Session 3: Families, Parenting, Adolescents, and Children