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Explaining Divorce Gaps in Cognitive and Noncognitive Skills of Children

Gloria Moroni

Discussion Papers from Department of Economics, University of York

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.

Keywords: Divorce; Interparental conflicts; Cognitive and Noncognitive skills; Decomposition (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C21 D1 J12 J13 J24 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018-11
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-eur and nep-neu
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