The emotional fallout of divorce may be preventing many children from attending college.
Students were 10.6% less likely to be admitted to a university if they were between the ages of 13 and 18 when their parents divorced, according to a new working paper from researchers at National Chinan University and National Taiwan University.
The researchers analyzed a sample of one million siblings in Taiwan to study how divorce affects educational attainment. Money wasn’t the prevailing reason behind why children of divorce were less likely to attend college. To arrive at this conclusion, researchers compared the effect of divorce with the effects of parental job loss.
The younger a child was when her parents divorced, the less likely she was to get into a university.
The researchers found that parental job loss did cause a significant, long-term reduction in household income. Despite this, these children weren’t notably less likely to be admitted to college, nor was the job loss predictive of the family dissolving.
Consequently, the researchers argued that the data suggest children with divorced parents are less likely to go to college because of psychological, and not financial, reasons. “Non-economic mechanisms, such as psychological and emotional shocks, are more likely dominant,” the researchers wrote.
Children are more likely to face psychological issues such as anxiety, anger and disbelief in the first year after a divorce. Teenagers are more likely to experience anger, experts say.
Not all divorces have the same effect: The younger a child was when her parents divorced, the less likely she was to get into a university. The researchers noted that their findings could be unique to Taiwanese families.
Approximately 70% of bachelor degree students in the U.S. have student debt versus around 22.5% in Taiwan, and between 25% and 50% of marriages in Taiwan end in divorce versus 40% to 50% of all marriages in the U.S. What’s more, if a divorce is uncontested in Taiwan, a couple can fill out a divorce document and file for divorce without consulting a lawyer.
However, numerous studieshave suggested divorce could prevent children from attending college or university or excelling in school. The educational prospects of wealthy children were most affected by their parents’ divorce, according to one recent study led by University of California, Los Angeles, professor Jennie Brand.