Divorce still damaging to children despite being more acceptable

UK Telegraph 09 Jul 2008
A study run over several decades has shown that children whose parents split up are more likely to end up without qualifications, claiming benefits and suffering depression. The National Child Development Study has tracked around 17,000 people born in Britain during one week in 1958 over the course of their lives. As those people approach their 50th birthdays, researchers have compared their lives with those of other sample groups born in earlier and later years. The lengthy study has confirmed that children born in 1958 were much less likely to experience parental divorce than children today.

Family break-up was subject to much greater social stigma at the time, something that was sometimes thought to contribute to the problems experienced by the children of divorced parents. Yet the study’s data suggest that greater social acceptance of divorce has not reduced its impact on children. “It might be expected that as divorce has become more commonplace, its effects might have reduced,” the researchers write. “Yet a comparison with children born in 1970 shows that this is not the case.” Comparing the outcomes of people born in 1958 and those born in 1970 when they reached their early 30s, the researchers found that the children of divorced parents in both groups were equally likely to lack qualifications, be on benefits and suffer from depression.