Parental Divorce and Child Educational Attainment: A Dynamic Approach

Shirley H. Liu, Stony Brook University, State University of New York

A model of schooling duration is employed to examine (i) the differential effect of the timing of parental divorce; and controlling for uncorrelated unobserved heterogeneity, (ii) the changes in these effects over time, on children's educational attainment. Parental divorce during early childhood or teenage years are associated with a higher risk of dropping out of school for boys, while for girls it's before the age of 11. Controlling for pre-existing disadvantages prior to divorce, the "net" impact of divorce is worse the younger the child was upon the separation. Boys benefit from their parents staying together as long as possible, with the benefit working through the importance of resources in their development. For girls this is not true, possibly because of more weight on non-pecuniary family attributes. Although the negative effect of divorce initially was more pronounced for boys, overtime boys do recover while the effect lingers for girls

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Presented in Session 142: Educational Attainment: Social and Economic Issues