Social Indicators Research

, Volume 123, Issue 2, pp 601–623 | Cite as

Parental Divorce, Psychological Well-Being and Educational Attainment: Changed Experience, Unchanged Effect Among Swedes Born 1892–1991

  • Michael GählerEmail author
  • Eva-Lisa Palmtag


During the last century, the proportion of children and adolescents who have experienced a parental divorce or separation has increased dramatically, in Sweden and elsewhere. Vast research has shown that children in these families fare less well than children in intact families, both in the short and in the long run and on a number of outcomes. Much less is known about whether parental divorce means the same for children and adolescents today as it did a century ago. Have living conditions changed and, if so, how? Moreover, has the association between parental divorce and child well-being changed in magnitude over time? To answer these questions six waves of the Swedish Level of Living Survey were used. The data set contains indicators on childhood living conditions for an entire century of Swedes, born 1892–1991. We show that living conditions for children of divorce have indeed changed on a number of dimensions but there is no evidence of magnitude change in the association between parental divorce/separation and two child outcomes, psychological well-being and educational attainment.


Parental divorce Living conditions Cohort change Psychological well-being Educational attainment Sweden 



We wish to thank Marie Evertsson, Juho Härkönen, Charlotta Magnusson, Dimitri Mortelmans and Berkay Özcan for valuable comments. The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007–2013) under grant agreement no. 320116 for the research project FamiliesAndSocieties. Financial support from the Swedish Council for Working Life and Social Research (FAS, dnr. 2006-1515) is gratefully acknowledged.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Swedish Institute for Social ResearchStockholm UniversityStockholmSweden

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