Parental separation and long-term changes in childhood financial poverty and multidimensional deprivation: a lifecourse approach

Lidia Panico, Institut National d'Études Démographiques (INED)
Marion Leturcq, Institut National d'Études Démographiques (INED)

For children, parental separation is often accompanied by an increased risk of financial poverty and a deterioration in living standards. These effects have been studied over relatively short periods of time, and not considering the multi faceted context of childhood disadvantage. In this paper, we use the Millennium Cohort Study, a nationally representative cohort of over 18,000 British children followed from shortly after birth until age 11, to consider how parental separation affects the experience of childhood poverty and multi-domain deprivation over a relatively long period of time. Results suggest that the decrease in income after parental separation is very large and the long-term recovery is only partial. When looking at four dimensions of childhood deprivation, the effects of parental separation on children's day-to-day lives are mixed. We note strong long-lasting effects of parental separation on leisure deprivation, similarly mediated by the same controls and recovery channels as for income; however we only see short term effects on material deprivation, not accounted for by any of the controls or recovery channels we test, and no effects on parenting involvement. However, heterogeneous effects exist, and the post-separation trajectories of children living with more and less educated mothers. We therefore suggest that, while parental separation has a strong and long-lasting effect on the financial constraints households with children face, parents may be deploying a number of strategies to mitigate the effects of separation on their children, shielding them from changes in their material circumstances and parenting. They are however less able to maintain normative but expensive activities such as holidays and after school activities. Differences in these post-separation trends exist across socio-economic groups, suggesting that the pre-separation social and economic capital may play an important role.

  See paper

Presented in Session 108: Biodemography and later life outcomes