The effects of divorce are greatest among advantaged children, a new study has found. The study, published in the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences, found that education was most affected in children whose parents are not statistically likely to divorce.
Research on family law in Oakville has previously found that parents who complete high school and attend and complete college are less likely to . The researchers wanted to see if the impact of divorce would be worse for children in families that are not prepared for disruption.
As part of the study, researchers looked at data on the families and socioeconomic backgrounds of 11,512 children and 4,931 mothers from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth and the National Longitudinal Survey Child Mother File.
The rate of divorce was higher among mothers who grew up in single-parent households, who had depressive symptoms, who worked inflexible hours and who had low self-esteem. High household income and education levels generally reduced the likelihood of divorce.
Children in families with a low risk of divorce generally had overall higher rates of educational attainment, but their educational attainment was negatively impacted by divorce. Children of divorced parents in this group were 6% less likely to graduate high school and 15% less likely to finish college.
Among the children in families with a high likelihood of divorce, there was virtually no impact on their likelihood of graduating either high school or college if their parents split. The study noted that children in this group already have lower levels of academic attainment, so divorce generally doesn’t make their education situation better or worse.
Researchers said the findings should make people rethink the notion that parents should stick out a failing marriage for the kids when the deck is already stacked against them. Marital stability, they said, is not a solution without addressing the disadvantage and socioeconomic issues these families face.
The research suggests that staying together may have a positive impact on children in some cases, but in other cases, there may actually be an increase in a child’s psychological well-being after a divorce. There’s no one right answer for every family.
Still, the study does have its limitations. Many factors contribute to divorce, and researchers cannot easily account for them all.
The study was funded via a grant from the National Institutes of Health. Co-authors were Xi Song of the University of Chicago, Ravaris Moore of Loyola Marymount University and Yu Xie of Princeton University.