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Mothers, parenting and the impact of separation


  • Platt, Lucinda
  • Haux, Tina
  • Rosenberg, Rachel


This paper investigates the impact of separation on mothers’ perception of their competence as parents. Using the Millennium Cohort Study (MCS), a largescale nationally representative cohort study of children born in the UK in 2000-2001, we investigate the development of evaluations of parenting competence among a sample of 12,000 mothers who were living with the child’s father when the baby was age nine months old. Specifically we ask, is parenting evaluation lower among those approximately 2000 mothers who separate compared to those who remain intact at each of three subsequent surveys at ages 3 5 and 7 years old. We look at the extent to which any negative impact of separation can be accounted for by the impact on maternal mental health or child’s behaviour. We also investigate whether parenting competence tends to recover with time since separation, and whether it is positively affected by the frequency of the child’s contact with his or her father. We find that mothers’ perceived parenting competence is negatively affected by separation; but this can be accounted for by the impact of separation on children’s behaviour and/or mother’s mental health. By contrast with studies of mental health, among separated mothers we find no evidence recovery over time.

Suggested Citation

  • Platt, Lucinda & Haux, Tina & Rosenberg, Rachel, 2015. "Mothers, parenting and the impact of separation," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 62352, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  • Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:62352

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Kiernan, Kathleen E. & Huerta, Maria Carmen, 2008. "Economic deprivation, maternal depression, parenting and children's cognitive and emotional development in early childhood," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 43720, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    2. Sophia Rabe-Hesketh & Anders Skrondal, 2012. "Multilevel and Longitudinal Modeling Using Stata, 3rd Edition," Stata Press books, StataCorp LP, edition 3, number mimus2, April.
    3. Brewer, Mike & Nandi, Alita, 2014. "Partnership dissolution: how does it affect income, employment and well-being?," ISER Working Paper Series 2014-30, Institute for Social and Economic Research.
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    More about this item


    mothers; separation; parenting competence; maternal mental health; millennium cohort study;

    JEL classification:

    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure

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