For children, parental separation is often accompanied by an increased risk of poverty and deteriorating living standards. These effects have been studied over relatively short periods of time, typically without considering the multi-faceted context of childhood disadvantage. In this presentation, Lidia Panico uses the UK Millennium Cohort Study, a nationally representative cohort of over 18,000 children, to consider how parental separation affects the experience of childhood poverty and multi-domain deprivation from birth to age 11.
Results highlight a large decrease in income after parental separation, with only a partial recovery over the longterm. However, the effects of parental separation on childhood deprivation were mixed. Panico notes strong, long-lasting effects of parental separation on deprivation from leisure activities such as holidays and after-school activities; while effects on material deprivation are not long lasting. There are no effects on parenting involvement. This suggests that, while facing strong financial constraints, parents reduce activities such as holidays and outings but attempt to limit changes in children’s material circumstances and their day-to-day parenting and routines. Maternal re-partnering is the most important post-separation recovery channel, more so than maternal work. The post-separation trajectories of children living with more and less educated mothers differ, suggesting that the pre-separation parental social and economic capital may play an important role.
Lidia Panico is a researcher at the French Institute for Demographic Studies. Her research interests focus on describing and explaining socio-economic inequalities in wellbeing, with a focus on child outcomes and family processes.