Bayaz-Öztürk, G. (2022). Parental breakup and children's outcomes in the United States. Family Relations, 71( 4), 1802– 1816.

Objective

This study investigates differences between health trajectories of children of divorce or separation and children of continuously married families.

Background

Over the past 50 years, during which fewer children grew up in families with both biological parents, there has been an increased academic interest to understand how children fared in alternative family structures.

Method

This study uses retrospective illness histories from a recent supplement to the Panel Study of Income Dynamics to conduct a longitudinal analysis of parental breakup and child health.

Results

Children of divorce were found to exhibit higher prevalence of several illnesses during adolescence and young adulthood than children of continuously married families. Controlling for family resources and parental mental health moderated the relationship between parental breakup and negative health outcomes. However, significant associations between parental breakup and children’s health outcomes remained.

Conclusion

This study provides a general outline of how parental breakup is associated with children’s health trajectories. Although the analysis controls for an extensive set of variables by employing a quasi-experimental method, caution in interpreting these findings as causal relationships is warranted.

Implications

Given the evidence presented, it is vital that parents and children have easy access to coping-focused preventive interventions designed to reduce adverse effects of divorce on children.