Diverging destinies in Europe? Education, family structure, and child well-being

Juho Härkönen, Stockholm University

In this study, I examine the links between educational attainment, single parenthood, and child wellbeing in Western European countries. I address three specific topics. Firstly, using data from the Eurobarometer surveys, I examine trends in single parenthood by (female) educational attainment levels from the mid-1970s to the 2000s. Secondly, I use panel data from the European Community Household Panel to construct synthetic cohort estimates of children’s probabilities of experiencing single parenthood across their childhood (0-15 years) according to mother’s educational attainment levels. Finally, I ask whether these class-biased family structures shape overall levels of and class differences in child disadvantage. I find major cross-national differences in levels, trends, and educational gradients of experience of single parenthood. However, assuming no such differences would change class differences (measured by mother’s education) in and overall levels of child well-being only to a limited extent, thus underlying more fundamental sources of child disadvantage.

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Presented in Session 108: Family structure and child well-being