Study links family income to divorce’s impact on children

Divorce, which was once stigmatized, is now a common phenomenon in America. Because of this, sociologists and other researchers have been able to study the effects of divorce on individuals, families and children. In many cases, the results of these studies have provided surprising insights.

That being said, no single study is definitive or predictive of individual experiences. You may wish to keep that in mind as we discuss the results of a study suggesting that parental separation or divorce has a significant impact on children, but only on children from high-income families.

The study’s authors based their findings on data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth collected between 1986 and 2008. The survey responses were observations of children’s wellbeing given by their mothers. After controlling for other factors, researchers determined that “parental separation or divorce really only impacted the children in the top income group.” For purposes of the study, “high income” was defined as living 300 percent above the federal poverty line.

One of the study’s authors added the caveat that study results based on averages should be taken with a grain of salt. She said: “I would never claim that an average effect across 4,000 kids should ever apply to a specific situation. Parents know best what to do for themselves and their kids.”

A similar disclaimer should be added to nearly all studies about families and divorce. Individual study results may be interesting, but they can only tell us so much about our individual stories. The rest is up to us.

Source: The Huffington Post, “Divorce Hits Children In Higher-Income Families The Hardest, Study Says,” Rebecca Adams, Sept. 15, 2014

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