A Chip Off the Block? Does Parental Marital Status Influence the Health Choices of Children?
Dr. Sarah Estelle
Existing economic research has established that parental divorce can have negative consequences for a child’s mental health, home environment, and educational attainment. This study extends that research to examine whether parental divorce leads to poor health behaviors in children. With divorce rates hovering around 40 and 50 percent (U.S. Census Bureau), more American children may be at risk of experiencing negative effects of divorce. Negative health effects could be a result of children mirroring their parents’ health behaviors, because parental behavior is a leading influencer on behavior of children. The National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997 provides panel data on individuals born between 1980 and 1984 including child health behaviors and will allow for child fixed effects to account for unobserved individual heterogeneity. This study will provide additional insights to parents about the consequences of divorce on their children and to policy-makers and educators who might respond with health interventions intended to counteract negative health influences at home.
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