Short -and Medium- term effects of parental separation on children’s well-being. Evidence from Uruguay

Produced by: 
Universidad de la República - Uruguay
Available from: 
July 2021
Paper author(s): 
Marisa Bucheli
Andrea Vigorito
Education - Health

There is limited quantitative research on the effect of parental union dissolution on children’s well-being in developing countries. Based on three waves of a longitudinal study that follows up a cohort of Uruguayan children from age 6 to 19, we study the short- and medium-term effects of parental separation on school attendance, grade repetition, completed years of schooling, socio-emotional status, time devoted to a wide set of activities, and labour force participation. We carry out a fixed effect estimation comparing children from married or cohabiting couples that remained together versus a similar group that split after 2004. We find evidence that union dissolution worsens child educational outcomes in the short and medium term. Meanwhile, at age 19, socio-emotional well-being, labour force participation and worked hours remain unchanged. Although effects by gender and timing of the divorce (childhood or adolescence) are similar in the short term, at age 19 girls’ educational outcomes are almost unaffected. We do not find robust differences related to child support payments and contact with co-resident fathers. We also explore a set of potential moderators, such as household income, maternal employment, access to durable goods and public transfers, which suggest that worsened educational outcomes are closely connected to postseparation economic hardship.


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