Siobhain Ryan | December 09, 2008
DIVORCES cost children about a year of schooling and the damage is increasing over time, a new study has found.
The multi-country research, published in the journal Comparative Sociology, found that Australian children -- especially those at high school -- fared worse in educational terms than their Canadian or US peers when parents split.
Their high school education was cut short by about a year, compared with just under 11 months for those in North America. By comparison, losing a parent through death cost about six months of education in all three countries.
"Our results support the argument that the loss of parental encouragement, emotional support and guidance that are a consequence of divorce has a detrimental impact on children's education success," the study said. "Divorce's impact on children's education is, we suggest, in a large part a consequence of the disruption, the loss of parental control and the difficulties that a sole parent or a step-parent faces in raising children - all of which reduces children's prospects for success in school."
The study found the reduced time at school was "not an educational disaster". It significantly cut into high school completion rates but had no major impact on time at university.
The effect of divorce on children's schooling has, however, dramatically increased over time.
The 1920 cohort measured in the study, for example, lost 3.6 months of schooling but by 1970 the losses had blown out to a year.
The researcher drew upon an Australian sample of almost 30,000 people.