Abstract

Abstract

Since the beginning of the twenty-first century, the stability of marriage and the family in China has been challenged by climbing divorce rates. Divorced single parenthood has become more prevalent. Nevertheless, divorced single parenthood and its impact on child outcomes have not been studied as much in China as in the West. Most studies in Western societies have reported disadvantaged child outcomes associated with parents’ divorce and single parenthood. This has been attributed in part to the prevalence of divorce among low socioeconomic parents and lack of child monitoring when one parent has left. In China, however, there are buffering mechanisms that may reduce the negative impact of parents’ divorce on children. One is positive selection in socioeconomic status among divorced parents. Another is the high involvement of grandparents in childcare. Using data from the 2010, 2012, 2014, and 2016 waves of the China Family Panel Studies, this study examines the effect on a child’s well-being of parental divorce versus marital conflict between parents who remain married. More than 30 indicators from five dimensions of child well-being were evaluated. The results showed that children living with divorced single mothers did not perform worse than children from intact families in most respects, whereas children living with divorced single fathers were more disadvantaged in academic performance, subjective well-being, and interpersonal relationships. Children from intact families witnessed frequent quarrels between their parents who remained married, resulting in negative impacts on most of the above outcomes.

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