Heterogeneous Cognitive Development: Parental Divorce, Gender and Socioeconomic Status

Xiaoyu Zhang

Previous literature has identified negative effects of parental divorce on children’s cognitive achievements, yet the heterogeneous effects of parental divorce haven’t been examined thoroughly given the uneven distributions of parents’ propensity to divorce. Moreover, boys and girls from various social backgrounds not only have separated growth trajectories of cognitive abilities but also experience parents’ marital transition in divergent ways. This paper uses Distributed Fixed Effects Models to account for the temporal heterogeneities associated with parental separation. Based on National Longitudinal Survey of Youth and Mothers between 1979 and 2006, I found that the cognitive trajectories of boys and girls raised in different SES backgrounds are affected by parental separation differently. With all other covariates controlled, the negative effects of parental divorce are the strongest in the most disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds, and for boys.

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 Presented in Session 206. The Importance of Socioeconomic Status on Child Outcomes