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Are Children of Divorce Less Likely to Graduate from College?

Are Children of Divorce Less Likely to Graduate from College?

By: M. Scott Gordon

There are many effects of divorce on the parties and their children alike. Numerous studies have addressed the impacts of divorce on both minor children and adult children of divorced parents, from the long-term psychological and physical health effects of divorce to the financial consequences for children when parents decide to file for divorce. But can divorce also impact a child’s educational experience? According to a recent article from Inside Higher Ed, a new study conducted by researchers at Iowa State University suggests that children of divorced parents are less likely to graduate from college and to earn a degree than their peers. Should the study change the way we think about the ramifications of divorce in the Chicago area?

Educational Background Differences After Divorce

The researchers behind the recent study assessed data from a 15-year period that was gathered by the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth. The subjects of the recent study were between the ages of 26 and 32. Of those subjects, the researchers determined that having divorced parents essentially cut the likelihood of earning a college degree or a graduate degree in half.

When young people come from families with parents who are married, about 50 percent of those individuals earned at least an undergraduate degree from a college or university. In comparison, of those individuals who came from a family with divorced parents, only about 27 percent of them earned an undergraduate degree. The same type of split between students held true for graduate degrees, as well. About 20 percent of the young people surveyed with married parents had earned a graduate degree, while the same was true for only about 12 percent of the people studied who had divorced parents.

According to Susan Stewart, a sociologist and one of the authors of the study, the research shows that while children with divorced parents are disadvantaged in regard to completing a bachelor’s degree, divorce hinders young people beyond that, as well.

Why Does Divorce Affect a Child’s Education?

The reason for the findings of the recent study are somewhat unclear given that research demonstrates that divorced and married parents have similar educational expectations for their children. Generally speaking, however, married parents who were part of the study tended to have more education than the parents who were divorced.

Stewart suggests that income is likely to play a significant factor. When parents decide to get divorced, it often means that there is simply less money for each parent and for the family more generally. Indeed, more divorced parents—in comparison with married parents—worry about how they will pay for their children’s college educations, and often cannot afford to pay for college in the same way that they would have been able to do if they had remained married.

At the same time, Stewart suggests that there are psychological factors at play given that in some cases children with divorced parents do not feel as entitled to go to college.

Seek Advice from a Chicago Divorce Attorney

If you have questions about the financial aspects of divorce or questions about college expenses, you should speak with a divorce lawyer in Chicago as soon as possible. Contact M. Scott Gordon & Associates today.