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Death and Divorce: The Long-term Consequences of Parental Loss on Adolescents

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  • Corak, Miles
  • Heisz, Andrew

Abstract

Two quasi-experiments are used to estimate the impact of parental divorce on the adult incomes and labour market behaviour of adolescents, as well as on their use of social programs, and their marital/fertility behaviour. These involve the use of individuals experiencing the death of a parent, and legislative changes to the Canadian divorce law in 1986. Parental loss by death is assumed to be exogenous; the experiences of children with a bereaved background offering a benchmark to assess the endogeneity of parental loss through divorce. Differences between individuals with divorced parents and those from intact and bereaved families significantly overstate the impact of divorce across a broad range of outcomes. When background characteristics are controlled for-most notably the income and labour market activity of parents in the years leading up to the divorce-parental divorce seems to influence the marital and fertility decisions of children, but not their labour market outcomes. Adolescents whose parents divorced tend to put off marriage, and once married suffer a greater likelihood of marital instability, but their earnings and incomes are not on average much different from others.

Suggested Citation

  • Corak, Miles & Heisz, Andrew, 1999. "Death and Divorce: The Long-term Consequences of Parental Loss on Adolescents," Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series 1999135e, Statistics Canada, Analytical Studies Branch.
  • Handle: RePEc:stc:stcp3e:1999135e
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. G. D. Sandefur & T. Wells, "undated". "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.
    2. Miles Corak & Andrew Heisz, 1999. "The Intergenerational Earnings and Income Mobility of Canadian Men: Evidence from Longitudinal Income Tax Data," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 34(3), pages 504-533.
    3. Kathleen E Kiernan, 1997. "The Legacy of Parental Divorce: Social, economic and demographic experiences in adulthood," CASE Papers case01, Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion, LSE.
    4. Philip K. Robins & David H. Greenberg & Paul Fronstin, 2001. "Parental disruption and the labour market performance of children when they reach adulthood," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 14(1), pages 137-172.
    5. 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.
    6. Meyer, Bruce D, 1995. "Natural and Quasi-experiments in Economics," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 13(2), pages 151-161, April.
    7. 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.
    8. Howard S. Bloom & Larry L. Orr & Stephen H. Bell & George Cave & Fred Doolittle & Winston Lin & Johannes M. Bos, 1997. "The Benefits and Costs of JTPA Title II-A Programs: Key Findings from the National Job Training Partnership Act Study," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 32(3), pages 549-576.
    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.
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