Divorce May Hurt Wealthier Kids’ Education the Most: Study

Yet those with parents who should, and do, divorce end up doing well.

School kids in classroom
School kids in classroom
By Ariel Scotti / April 3, 2019 12:15 pm

It’s not a secret that the children of divorced parents face a higher rate of difficulty in school than their peers — but this struggle is not equal.

Surprisingly, it’s the children of wealthy, seemingly stable, yet split-up parents whose education slips the most, according to a new study from UCLA.

“We found that parental divorce lowers the educational attainment of kids,” said Jennie E. Brand, professor of sociology and statistics at UCLA, and lead author of the study, “but only among those for whom the divorce was unlikely. We interpret this to mean that the divorce was unexpected, and as such, more disruptive.”

The research found that an unexpected divorce — one that happens among the wealthy, well-educated, well-planned — is more of a disruption for the children than in families where poverty and dysfunction are the norm, Time reported. Conversely, it’s been well-documented that children whose parents should split up — those of the volatile, high-conflict kind — do better in school and life after the dust settles.

For the study, the team at UCLA looked at two sets of data on the families and socioeconomic backgrounds of 11,512 children to try and predict which sets of parents were more likely to divorce. Then, they compared the educational outcomes of the children of divorced parents to those raised in two parent households.

The team found that kids from families that split up but weren’t expected to were 6% less likely than children of non-divorced parents to graduate from high school and 15% less likely to complete college.

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