Publication details

Parental Separation and Children’s Education in a Comparative Perspective : Does the Burden Disappear When Separation Is More Common?



Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source Demographic Research
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Social Studies

Field Sociology, demography
Keywords Family dissolution; Divorce; Divorce rate; Family structure; Family conflict; Educational attainment
Description Parental breakup has a net negative effect on children’s education. However, it is unclear if this negative effect changes when parental separation becomes more common. We studied the variations in the effect of parental separation on children’s chances of obtaining tertiary education across cohorts and countries with varying divorce rates. We applied country and cohort fixed-effect as well as random-effect models to data from the first wave of the Generations and Gender Survey, complemented by selected macro-level indicators (divorce rate and educational expansion). Country fixed-effect logistic regressions show that the negative effect of experiencing parental separation is stronger in more recent birth cohorts. Random-intercept linear probability models confirm that the negative effect of parental breakup is significantly stronger when divorce is more common. The results support the low-conflict family dissolution hypothesis, which explains the trend by a rising proportion of low-conflict breakups. A child from a dissolving low-conflict family is likely to be negatively affected by family dissolution, whereas a child from a high-conflict dissolving family experiences relief. As divorce becomes more common throughout society and more low-conflict couples separate, more children are negatively affected, and hence the average effect of breakup is more negative. We show a significant variation in the size of the effect of divorce on children’s education; it becomes more negative when divorce is more common.
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