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Is Divorce Really Bad for Children


									Is Divorce Really Bad
    for Children?

         November 25, 2008
     ECON 429: Professor Horlacher
           Jessica Clayton
Increasing Divorce Rates
   Beginning in the 1960’s - 200% increase in the
    rate of divorce.
   Results in a change of family structure.
   By 1998, only 68% of children lived with two
    parents. Now a minority.
   What does this mean for children?
Economic Impacts
   Family structure consequential on economic
    earnings and well-being of a family.
   Divorce correlated with an immediate decrease
    in average family income by 41%.
   Median Incomes:
        - $60,296- two-parent family with kids
        - $22,428- female-headed family
   Demonstrated by a 16% decrease in
    Initial Impacts on Children
   Lower educational attainment: worse test
    scores, higher dropout rates, and decreased
    college entrance numbers.
   Increased likelihood of being arrested.
   Among females, increased chances of
    becoming pregnant at a young age.
   Disadvantage for the growth of human capital.
    Long-Run Impacts on Children
   Decreased economic potential:
     -men from intact families- $20,769/yr
     -men from divorced families- $17,721/yr
     -women/intact - $16,148/yr
     -women/divorced - $14,185
   Tendency to put off marriage.
   Increased likelihood of separation or
    The Case of the Stepchild and
    Children of Bereaved Families
   1/2 of all children of divorce will eventually live with a
    step-parent: two-adult household, minus biological
   Most turmoil from the ‘relationship quality.’
   Stepchild outcomes parallel those of divorced children:
    better than with one parent, worse than with two
    biological parents.
   Bereaved children- do not demonstrate the negative
   Bereavement means loss of a parent due to an
    exogenous rather than an endogenous factor.
   Lack of the presence of a biological parent.
   Economic impact: decreased financial
   Family class origination.
   Resource impact: lower overall resources
    to put into the child’s development.
Lack of Biological Parent
   Kids need their biological parents.
   Did not pan out with statistical evidence:
    neither stepchildren nor children of bereaved
    families, who both lose a biological parent,
    experience the problems to the same extent.
Economic Impact
   A shift from two salaries to one means fewer
   However, in the case of the step-child, there is
    an added income, but the impacts persist.
   Statistically, divorced families tend to come
    from lower classes initially.
Family Class Origination
   Trend: Families who go through divorce have a
    higher tendency to be from lower classes.
   Children born out of wedlock tend to come from
    parents with lower education and with a higher
    likelihood of being black.
   On the other hand, two-parent families are correlated
    with being white, male, and speaking English at
   The disadvantages may come from sources outside
    of divorce.
Overall Resource Impact
   Single-parent families also have less time,
    fewer role models of the opposite sex, and
    smaller social networks.
   Each parent has the ability to invest effort into
    their child: ability decreases with constraints
    that come from divorce.
   Maybe explains stepchildren vs. bereaved
Making Divorce Easier
   In 1970’s laws changed from multilateral to
   Makes it easier on parents, same effects
    seen in children.
   Resulted in increased divorce rates.
   Means more kids living in divorced families,
    which correlates with negative impacts.
Ways to Help
   Recoup lost finances: through remarriage or
    increased labor participation.
   Remarriage: the earlier the better, but never
    fully fixes the issue.
   Labor Participation: shows a correlation with a
    lesser decrease in educational attainment.
   Problems could be bigger still if families do not
    attempt to work with the problem.
   Divorce correlates with several negative
    outcomes in children.
   Public policy must attempt to alleviate the
   Lightened-limits on welfare would aid single-
    parent families.
   Increased policies mandating payment of child
   Need to help parent’s disadvantages to help the

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