by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The children of divorced parents acquire fewer undergraduate and professional degrees, even after controlling for a variety of factors, according to a new study.
The study, recently published by the Journal of Family Studies, addresses the intersection of two increasingly important phenomena: high rates of divorce and the increasing need for today’s young people to acquire post-secondary and post-baccalaureate degrees.
Divorce is conspicuously prevalent in American culture. About 45 percent of marriages end in divorce in America; Scientific American estimated that 1.5 million children experience the divorce of their parents every year. An overview of research on divorce finds that “children living with their married, biological parents consistently have better physical, emotional, and academic well-being.”
Much of this research however has focused primarily on the impact on young children. This, the study argues, misses how America’s economy has shifted away from manufacturing, leading both men and women to find themselves in need of a higher degree of education to keep up in the services economy. …
… The study then considers the impact of divorce on post-secondary education after controlling for a number of relevant variables, namely the “gender and race of the youth and parents’ education and income.” Even with these controls, the odds that the child of divorced parents obtained at least a bachelor’s degree were 44 percent lower than the children of an intact marriage, and 20 percent lower for having enrolled in a program for or obtained a professional degree.