Experimental Economics

, Volume 15, Issue 1, pp 1–23 | Cite as

Are happiness and productivity lower among young people with newly-divorced parents? An experimental and econometric approach

  • Eugenio ProtoEmail author
  • Daniel Sgroi
  • Andrew J. Oswald


High rates of divorce in western society have prompted much research on the repercussions for well-being and the economy. Yet little is known about the important topic of whether parental divorce has deleterious consequences upon adult children. By combining experimental and econometric survey-based evidence, this study attempts to provide an answer. Under controlled conditions, it measures university students’ subjective well-being and productivity (in a standardized laboratory task). It finds no evidence that either of these is negatively associated with recent parental divorce. If anything, happiness and productivity appear to be slightly greater, particularly among males, if their parents have divorced. Using longitudinal data from the British Household Panel Survey—to control for so-called fixed effects—we then cross-check this result, and confirm the same finding, on various random samples of young British adults.


Labor productivity Divorce Mental health Well-being Happiness Experimental economics 

JEL Classification

D03, J24, C91 


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Supplementary material

10683_2011_9285_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (102 kb)
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Copyright information

© Economic Science Association 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eugenio Proto
    • 1
    Email author
  • Daniel Sgroi
    • 1
  • Andrew J. Oswald
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of EconomicsUniversity of WarwickCoventryUK

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