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Child Well-Being and Sole-Parent Family Structure in the OECD: An Analysis


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  • Simon Chapple
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    This paper addresses the causal impact of being raised in a sole-parent family on child well-being across the OECD. The question is answered by a cross-OECD meta-analysis and a literature review. There are widely varying rates of sole parenthood across the OECD. Rates of sole parenthood have generally been rising in the past few decades. Inevitably, countries with higher rates of sole parenthood are more concerned about the potential well-being effects on children. The reasons for sole parenthood include never having partnered, having separated and divorced, and being widowed. The composition of sole parents by these reasons varies widely across OECD countries. Views on the desirability of two-parent families for raising children are also divergent across the OECD. Ce document examine l’impact de l’appartenance à une famille monoparentale sur le bien-être des enfants dans les pays de l’OCDE. Il marque l’aboutissement d’une méta-analyse et d’un examen des travaux publiés sur le sujet dans ces différents pays. Le taux de monoparentalité varie considérablement d’un pays de l’OCDE à l’autre. D’une manière générale, ce taux a augmenté au cours des toutes dernières décennies. Bien évidemment, les pays où ce taux est élevé se préoccupent plus que les autres des effets possibles de la monoparentalité sur les enfants en termes de bien-être. Les causes de monoparentalité incluent le fait de ne jamais avoir vécu en couple, la séparation, le divorce et le veuvage. C’est la raison pour laquelle la composition des familles monoparentales est extrêmement variable d’un pays de l’Organisation à l’autre. Sur le point de savoir s’il est souhaitable que les enfants soient élevés par leurs deux parents, les avis diffèrent également selon les pays. La méta-analyse de 122 études de pays de l’OCDE hors États-Unis conclut qu’en moyenne, les effets préjudiciables de la monoparentalité sur le bien-être des enfants sont faibles, constat grosso modo conforme à celui de méta-analyses antérieures, fondées en grande partie sur des études américaines. Plus l’étude est de bonne qualité, plus la taille de l’effet constaté est faible. La taille des effets varie également d’un pays de l’Organisation à l’autre mais il n’a pas été possible de rattacher systématiquement ce phénomène à des différences de politique. Quoi qu’il en soit, si les effets sont faibles, toute interprétation de causalité doit impérativement s’appuyer sur des hypothèses solides.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by OECD Publishing in its series OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers with number 82.

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    Date of creation: 23 Mar 2009
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    Handle: RePEc:oec:elsaab:82-en

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    Cited by:
    1. Meyer, Daniel R. & Skinner, Christine & Davidson, Jacqueline, 2011. "Complex families and equality in child support obligations: A comparative policy analysis," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 33(10), pages 1804-1812, October.
    2. Rainer Eppel & Thomas Leoni, 2011. "New Social Risks Affecting Children. A Survey of Risk Determinants and Child Outcomes in the EU," WIFO Working Papers, WIFO 386, WIFO.
    3. Adema, Willem, 2012. "Setting the scene: The mix of family policy objectives and packages across the OECD," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 34(3), pages 487-498.


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