Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Sophisticated New Analyses on the Impact of Divorce on Children

Paul Amato and Christopher Anthony recently published a paper on the impact of divorce on children. They find consistent, average, negative impacts for divorce on children. Specifically, more children changed in negative directions than positive directions but a sizeable number changed in positive directions, and most did not show significant changes. These results are consistent with other reports. For example, across a number of studies, Paul Amato, his colleagues, and other social scientists have demonstrated that there are negative impacts of divorce on children across a host of dimensions. However, it is also true that most children do not show negative effects, at least on dimensions commonly measured. While their study does not assess mechanisms that cause the effects, it makes sense that some children would be less negatively impacted from divorce, or even benefit on some dimensions, because of the ways children can be caught or kept in the middle between the parents.

Amato and Anthony also showed that the negative effects on children were strongest for couples who already had higher risk for divorce, particularly those with higher risk of divorce due to socio-economic and demographic factors. That is, disadvantaged families were more prone to divorce and children from such families suffered, on average, the most from divorce. This is not surprising given that children in families with more means and advantages are more likely to be buffered from some of the ways divorce negatively impacts children.

To read or access the journal article by Amato and Anthony, click here. To read a great summary of the study by Harry Benson at Institute for Family Studies, click here.