Globe and Mail

"Children of divorce more likely to follow suit: study"

Thursday, June 10, 1999
Jennifer Lewington
The Globe and Mail

Teenagers of divorced parents often have their own marital problems later in life, but don't appear to suffer in the job market because of their family breakups, according to a new study released yesterday by Statistics Canada.

The report found that teenagers of divorced parents marry later in life and are more likely to divorce or separate than people whose parents stayed married.

In the study, which analyzed the effects of divorce on teens, Revenue Canada tax figures were used to track the financial experiences of 122,500 teens from 1982 until 1995. Those surveyed were between 25 and 32 years old when the study was completed.

Statscan found that the financial success of the study group had more to do with the income bracket of the parents than their incidence of divorce. Although the children of divorced parents were slightly less successful in the labour market than those with married parents, Statscan attributed it to the lower incomes and less stable jobs of the divorced parents.

The report complements the findings of a recent report about income and child well-being by the Canadian Council on Social Development. The council's study, which looked at children aged 4 to 11, found that the lower the family income the greater the risk of behavioural and relationship problems for the children.

"What this latest [Statscan] data would suggest is those problems we identified persist later on in life," said David Ross, the council's executive director. "They just don't end at age 13."

Mr. Ross said there are several ways to address the impact of divorce on children, including the provision of more services for children from low-income families. Another approach is to improve the earning potential of sole-support parents, he said.

"Most lone parents would like to have jobs that pay them above the poverty line," he said, adding that the alternative is to provide more direct services to the children.

In its report, the council found that a family's income level plays a crucial role in a child's development. For example, children in low-income families are twice as likely as those in well-off families to experience poorly functioning home lives.

The council report found that nearly 40 per cent of children in low-income families demonstrated high levels of aggression -- like fighting with family members -- compared with 29 per cent of children from families earning more than $30,000.

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