IZA DP No. 3342: How Unilateral Divorce Affects Children
Using U.S. Census data for the years 1960-1980, we study the impact of unilateral divorce on outcomes of children (age 6-15) and their mothers. We find that the reform increased mothers’ divorce, decreased family income and increased the fraction of mothers below the poverty line. For children, we find not only negative results on investment, measured as the probability that a child goes to a private school, but also on child outcomes, measured by the likelihood of children aged 0-4 being held back in school at the time of the reform. We then analyze outcomes of the same cohorts of children 10 years later, by studying young men and women aged 16-25 using the 1970-1990 U.S. Census. We find an increase in marginality for these cohorts, measured as the probability of living in an institution (men) or the probability of being below the poverty line (women). We find that the impact in outcomes is particularly important for black children and young adults.