Childhood Living Arrangements and the Intergenerational Transmission of Divorce



Using detailed data on the childhood living arrangements of children taken from the 1995 National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG), the impact of multiple dimensions of parent histories on the likelihood of offspring divorce is investigated. Although past research is replicated by finding a positive impact of parental divorce on offspring divorce, the author also finds that living apart from both parents, irrespective of the reason, is associated with an increased risk of divorce. In particular, children who were born out of wedlock and who did not experience parental divorce or death experience a very high risk of marital disruption. However, neither the number of transitions in childhood living arrangements nor parental remarriage appear to substantially affect the risk of marital dissolution. Finally, variations in the timing of and circumstances surrounding marriage appear to mediate a substantial proportion of the effect of parent histories on offspring divorce.