Review of Economics of the Household

, Volume 17, Issue 1, pp 67–87 | Cite as

Parental breakup and children’s development: the role of time and of post-separation conditions

  • Chiara PronzatoEmail author
  • Arnstein Aassve


In recent years, the relationship between parental separation and child outcomes has received massive attention. This extraordinary level of interest stems from the rise in divorce rates in almost all developed countries. The aim of the paper is to identify the effect of parental separation on child cognitive and behavioural outcomes. It uses data on a sample of around 9000 children up to age 11, drawn from five waves of the United Kingdom Millennium Cohort Study. We use fixed-effects models to control for unobservable characteristics that do not vary over time, and explore the role of time and of post-separation conditions in mitigating these effects. We find that parental separation has detrimental but small effects on children’s behaviours, and that these effects appear stronger after a couple of years from separation. An intimate relationship between the child and the non-resident father, the presence of a new mother’s partner and of other relatives also play a role. No effect is found on cognitive development.


Divorce Parental separation Child’s behaviour Cognitive development Millennium cohort study Fixed effects 



The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Research Council under the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007–2013) / ERC Grant agreement n°201194-CODEC, which is gratefully acknowledged. Our thanks go also to participants to seminars at Dondena, at the department of Economics in Salerno, at the department of Statistics in Padua, and participants to the Divorce conference in Milan, and to the Alp Pop conference in La Thuile. Any error should be attributed to the authors.

Compliance with ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Economics and StatisticsUniversity of Turin, Collegio Carlo AlbertoTorinoItaly
  2. 2.Department of Policy Analysis and Public ManagementBocconi UniversityMilanoItaly

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