2001), physical health (Dawson 1991), mental and emotional health (Chase-Lansdale et al. Yet the picture is not as bleak as this litany of problems might suggest.
Although I have tried to read widely and without bias, the portion of the literature I have been able to read is necessarily selective – and the portion I can reference in this paper is much more constrained – while the very act of selection has, no doubt, been shaped by my own views and interests.The paper should thus be regarded as no more than a personal reading of the literature.Parental separation has been reported in the literature as being associated with a wide range of adverse effects on children’s wellbeing, both as a short-term consequence of the transition and in the form of more enduring effects that persist into adulthood.Effects reported include adverse impacts on cognitive capacity (Fergusson, Lynskey and Horwood 1994), schooling (Evans et al. A further range of impacts in early adulthood and beyond include higher rates of early childbearing (Mc Lanahan and Bumpass 1994), early marriage (Keith and Finlay 1988), marital dissolution (Amato and De Boer 2001), lone parenthood (Mc Lanahan and Booth 1989), low occupational status (Biblarz and Gottainer 2000), economic hardship (Mc Lanahan and Booth 1989), poor-quality relationships with parents (Aquilino 1994), unhappiness (Biblarz and Gottainer 2000), discontentment with life (Furstenberg and Teitler 1994), mistrust in others (Ross and Mirowsky 1999), and reduced longevity (Tucker et al. On the face of it, this seems like a long and forlorn listing, which suggests that parental separation bears down heavily on children and blights their lives to a significant degree across all domains of functioning.Over the past two decades or so, a significant literature has developed on the impact of family structure and family change on child wellbeing.
This literature documents an accumulating body of evidence that children raised in different family contexts display differential patterns of outcomes across a wide range of developmental domains.How much is attributable to poorer mental health of lone parents following a parental separation?How much is attributable to the conflict between parents which often accompanies a parental separation?This poses a challenge for a brief survey of the literature such as this.It needs to be said that this paper is not based on a systematic review of the literature in this field.How much of the impact is attributable to income changes consequent on parental separation?