Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Working Papers,
University of Aarhus, Aarhus School of Business, Department of Economics

No 09-15: Family Structure Changes and Children´s Health, Behavior, and Educational Outcomes

Astrid Würtz Rasmussen ()
Additional contact information
Astrid Würtz Rasmussen: Department of Economics, Aarhus School of Business, Postal: FRICHSHUSET , Hermodsvej 22 , DK 8230 Aabyhoej, Denmark

Abstract: More and more children do not grow up in traditional nuclear fam- ilies. Instead, they grow up in single-parent households or in fami- lies with a step-parent. Hence, it is important to improve our under- standing of the impact of "shocks" in family structure due to parental relationship dissolution on children. In this study I empirically test whether children are traumatized both in the short and the long run by shocks in the family structure during childhood. I focus on edu- cational, behavioral, and health outcomes. A population sample of Danish children born in January to May 1985 is used for the analysis. The empirical cross-sectional analysis indicates a negative relation be- tween the number of family structure changes and children’s health, behavior, and educational outcomes. These results are con…rmed by a di¤erences-in-di¤erences analysis of health outcomes. This suggests that there is not only a selection e¤ect, but also a causal e¤ect on children of shocks in the family structure.

Keywords: Family structure; child outcomes; health; crime; education

JEL-codes: D13; I12; I21; J12

46 pages, January 1, 2009

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