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The Kids Are OK: Divorce and Children's Behavior Problems

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Abstract

Social scientists and commentators disagree on how much of the association between parental divorce and child well-being is causal. This paper reexamines the claim that parental divorce is detrimental to children's emotional well-being, measured in terms of behavior problems. The author analyzed panel data from the 1986-2002 waves of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, 1979, and found that parental divorce is associated with a higher level of behavior problems in children. However, after controlling for unobserved factors that are either constant over time or change at a constant rate over time, the effect of parents' divorce substantially declines and its influence on their children's emotional well-being is not statistically significant.

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