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Does Parental Divorce Affect Adolescents' Cognitive Development? Evidence from Longitudinal Data

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    Abstract

    In this paper we analyse data from the National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988 to investigate whether experiencing parental divorce during adolescence reduces measured cognitive ability. To account for the potential endogeneity of parental divorce we employ a difference-in-differences model that relies on observing tenagers' outcomes before and after divorce. We find that parental divorce does not negatively affect teenagers' cognitive development. Our results also suggest that cross-section estimates overstate the detrimental effect of parental divorce.

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    File URL: http://www.csef.it/WP/wp128.pdf
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy in its series CSEF Working Papers with number 128.

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    Date of creation: 01 Nov 2004
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    Publication status: Published in Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, 2007, vol. 69, pages 321-338
    Handle: RePEc:sef:csefwp:128

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    Keywords: Divorce; Difference in differences; Cognitive Development;

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    1. Kevin Lang & Jay L. Zagorsky, 2001. "Does Growing up with a Parent Absent Really Hurt?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 36(2), pages 253-273.
    2. Betsey Stevenson & Justin Wolfers, 2003. "Bargaining in the Shadow of the Law: Divorce Laws and Family Distress," NBER Working Papers 10175, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Richard J. Murnane & John B. Willett & Frank Levy, 1995. "The Growing Importance of Cognitive Skills in Wage Determination," NBER Working Papers 5076, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Jeffrey S. Zax & Daniel I. Rees, 2002. "IQ, Academic Performance, Environment, and Earnings," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 84(4), pages 600-616, November.
    5. Corak, Miles, 2001. "Death and Divorce: The Long-Term Consequences of Parental Loss on Adolescents," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 19(3), pages 682-715, July.
    6. Robert Haveman & Barbara Wolfe, 1995. "The Determinants of Children's Attainments: A Review of Methods and Findings," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 33(4), pages 1829-1878, December.
    7. Heckman, James J & Ichimura, Hidehiko & Todd, Petra E, 1997. "Matching as an Econometric Evaluation Estimator: Evidence from Evaluating a Job Training Programme," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 64(4), pages 605-54, October.
    8. Sander, William, 1986. "On the Economics of Marital Instability in the United Kingdom," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 33(4), pages 370-81, November.
    9. Manski, C.F. & Sandefur, G.D. & Mclanahan, S. & Powers, D., 1990. "Alternative Estimates Of The Effect Of Family Stucture During Adolescence On Hight School Graduation," Working papers 90-31, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
    10. Jonathan Gruber, 2000. "Is Making Divorce Easier Bad for Children? The Long Run Implications of Unilateral Divorce," NBER Working Papers 7968, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Leora Friedberg, 1998. "Did Unilateral Divorce Raise Divorce Rates? Evidence from Panel Data," NBER Working Papers 6398, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Orley Ashenfelter & David Card, 1984. "Using the Longitudinal Structure of Earnings to Estimate the Effect of Training Programs," NBER Working Papers 1489, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Wolfers, Justin, 2003. "Did Unilateral Divorce Laws Raise Divorce Rates? A Reconciliation and New Results," Research Papers 1819, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
    14. Andrew Cherlin & Kathleen Kiernan & P. Chase-Lansdale, 1995. "Parental divorce in childhood and demographic outcomes in young adulthood," Demography, Springer, vol. 32(3), pages 299-318, August.
    15. John Cawley & Karen Conneely & James Heckman & Edward Vytlacil, 1996. "Cognitive Ability, Wages, and Meritocracy," NBER Working Papers 5645, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    16. G. D. Sandefur & T. Wells, . "Using Siblings to Investigate the Effects of Family Structure on Educational Attainment," Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers 1144-97, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty.
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    Cited by:
    1. Salvatore Zecchini & Marco Ventura, 2006. "Public Credit Guarantees and SME Finance," ISAE Working Papers 73, ISTAT - Italian National Institute of Statistics - (Rome, ITALY).
    2. Philippe Mahler & Rainer Winkelmann, 2004. "Secondary School Track Selection of Single-Parent Children – Evidence from the German Socio-Economic Panel," SOI - Working Papers 0415, Socioeconomic Institute - University of Zurich, revised Oct 2005.
    3. Philippe Mahler & Rainer Winkelmann, 2005. "Single Motherhood and (Un)Equal EducationalOpportunities: Evidence for Germany," SOI - Working Papers 0512, Socioeconomic Institute - University of Zurich.

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