NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
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Understanding the Mechanisms of Parental Divorce Effects on Child's Higher Education

Yen-Chien Chen, Elliott Fan, Jin-Tan Liu

NBER Working Paper No. 25886
Issued in May 2019
NBER Program(s):The Labor Studies Program

In this paper we evaluate the degree to which the adverse parental divorce effect on university education operates through deprivation of economic resources. Using one million siblings from Taiwan, we first find that parental divorce occurring at ages 13-18 led to a 10.6 percent decrease in the likelihood of university admission at age 18. We then use the same sample to estimate the effect of parental job loss occurring at the same ages, and use the job-loss effect as a benchmark to indicate the potential parental divorce effect due to family income loss. We find the job-loss effect very little. Combined, these results imply a minor role played by reduced income in driving the parental divorce effect on the child’s higher education outcome. Non-economic mechanisms, such as psychological and mental shocks, are more likely to dominate. Our further examinations show that boys and girls are equally susceptible, and younger teenagers are more vulnerable than the more mature ones, to parental divorce.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w25886

 
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