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Explaining Divorce Gaps in Cognitive and Noncognitive Skills of Children

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  • Gloria Moroni

Abstract

To what extent does parental selection into divorce explain the gap in skills between children of intact and disrupted families? Using the UK Millennium Cohort Study this paper shows that the disadvantage in skills typically found among children of divorce mainly reflects the selection effect, whereby more disadvantaged parents are more likely to divorce. In an Oaxaca-Blinder decomposition of children’s cognitive and noncognitive skills up until age 11, evidence indicates that pre-divorce characteristics, namely parents’ education, family financial resources and interparental conflicts are the most important factors accounting for the divorce gaps in children’s skills, implying a negligible impact of divorce itself. Interparental conflicts are often neglected in the literature but are shown to play a major role particularly for noncognitive skills of children. These results suggest that to reduce the disadvantage in skills among children of divorce, interventions targeting these pre-divorce characteristics would be potentially more effective than policies discouraging divorce.

Suggested Citation

  • Gloria Moroni, 2018. "Explaining Divorce Gaps in Cognitive and Noncognitive Skills of Children," Discussion Papers 18/16, Department of Economics, University of York.
  • Handle: RePEc:yor:yorken:18/16
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Divorce; Interparental conflicts; Cognitive and Noncognitive skills; Decomposition;

    JEL classification:

    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • C21 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Cross-Sectional Models; Spatial Models; Treatment Effect Models
    • D1 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior

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