ArticlePDF Available

More Evidence for Trends in the Intergenerational Transmission of Divorce: A Completed Cohort Approach Using Data From the General Social Survey

Authors:

Abstract and Figures

Many studies have demonstrated that the children of divorce are disproportionately likely to end their own marriages. In previous work, I showed that the transmission of divorce between generations weakened substantially for General Social Survey (GSS) respondents interviewed between 1973 and 1996 (Wolfinger 1999); Li and Wu (2006, 2008) contended that my finding is a methodological artifact of the GSS's lack of marriage duration data. This article presents a completed-cohort approach to studying divorce using the GSS. The results confirm a decline in the probability of divorce transmission that cannot be explained by the right-censoring bias alleged by Li and Wu. This finding contributes to an ongoing debate about trends in the negative consequences of parental divorce, as well as demonstrating a useful approach to right-censored phenomena when event history data are not available.
Content may be subject to copyright.
More Evidence for Trends in the Intergenerational Transmission of Divorce: A
Completed Cohort Approach using Data from the General Social Survey*
Nicholas H. Wolfinger
Department of Family and Consumer Studies, University of Utah
Forthcoming in Demography (MS 2009-164)
*Correspondence to Wolfinger, Department of Family and Consumer Studies, 225 South 1400 East, AEB
228, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT 84112-0080 (e-mail: phone: 801-364-3283; fax: 801-581-
5156). I thank Paul Amato, Jaap Dronkers, Lori Kowaleski-Jones, William Mason, Matthew McKeever,
Hiromi Ono, and Ken Smith for useful suggestions.
11/22/09
More Evidence for Trends in the Intergenerational Transmission of Divorce: A Completed
Cohort Approach using Data from the General Social Survey
ABSTRACT
Many studies have demonstrated that the children of divorce are disproportionately likely to end
their own marriages. Wolfinger (1999) showed that the transmission of divorce between
generations weakened substantially for General Social Survey (GSS) respondents interviewed
between 1973 and 1996; Li and Wu (2008) contend that Wolfinger’s finding is a methodological
artifact of the GSS’s lack of marriage duration data. This article presents a completed-cohort
approach to studying divorce using the GSS. The results confirm a decline in the probability of
divorce transmission that cannot be explained by the right censoring bias alleged by Li and Wu.
This finding contributes to an ongoing debate about trends in the negative consequences of
parental divorce, as well as demonstrating a useful approach to right-censored phenomena when
event history data are not available.
1
Social scientists have been writing about the divorce cycle, the propensity to end one’s
own marriage as a result of growing up in a divorced family, at least since the 1930s (for an
overview see Wolfinger 2005). At least 25 studies have demonstrated that marital instability
runs in families, prima facie evidence that divorce transmission is of widespread concern to
social scientists. The possibility that some of the negative consequences of growing up in a
divorced family have abated adds a whole new level of interest. For several years around the end
of the twentieth century there was considerable support for rolling back the clock on easy
divorce laws in order to preserve two-parent families (Nock, Sanchez, and Wright 2008). It
would undercut the critics of no-fault divorce if ending a marriage no longer hurt children as
much as it used to.
Ten years ago Wolfinger (1999) used data from the 1973-1996 General Social Surveys
(GSS) to show that the intergenerational transmission of divorce had weakened substantially
over time. Li and Wu (2008) contested this finding on methodological grounds: the ostensible
decline in the probability of divorce transmission, they aver, is nothing more than a
methodological artifact resulting from the failure to properly model right censoring. Using data
from the National Survey of Families and Households, they found no evidence of a trend in the
divorce cycle after accounting for right censoring via event history analysis.
In this paper I develop a strategy for studying divorce using GSS data based on
completed marriage cohorts that obviates concerns about right censoring. This approach reveals
a trend in the divorce cycle that is consistent with Wolfinger (1999) and contrary to Li and Wu
(2008), thus contributing new evidence to an ongoing debate about whether the consequences of
growing up in a disrupted family abated during the years that divorce became more common in
America and other western nations.
2
RIGHT CENSORING, THE GENERAL SOCIAL SURVEY, AND COMPLETED COHORTS
Li and Wu (2008) contend that limitations of the GSS produced a spurious decline in the
divorce cycle reported by Wolfinger (1999). The GSS lacks adequate information on marriage
timing to conduct event history analysis, the preferred statistical technique for right-censored
phenomena like divorce (Allison 1982, 1995). Wolfinger therefore analyzed divorce
transmission via logistic regression. Li and Wu claim that
. . . if divorce rates are identical across marriage cohorts, more respondents in earlier
marriage cohorts would be observed to divorce relative to respondents in later marriage
cohorts simply by virtue of longer exposures to the risk of divorce. If Wolfinger’s
controls for exposure to risk are inadequate, his conclusion that divorce transmission has
declined could be a methodological artifact (p. 875).
It may well be true that divorce is more fully observed for earlier marriage cohorts, but
this by itself would not produce a spurious decline in the intergenerational transmission of
divorce because people from both divorced and intact families of origin would be affected. For
Wolfinger (1999) to be incorrect, the probability of right censoring would had to have
disproportionately increased for the children of divorce. Li and Wu do not consider this issue.
Instead, they reproduce Wolfinger’s finding using data from the National Survey of Families and
Households—albeit without Wolfinger’s controls for duration dependence—then explain it away
as an artifact of improper adjustment for right censoring. The lesson to be learned from Li and
Wu is that right censoring can induce bias if not properly accounted for (though demonstrating
3
right censoring bias using the National Survey of Families and Households does not prove it
exists for the GSS data analyzed by Wolfinger.)
Li and Wu do establish the need for an analytic strategy that can rule out any suspicion of
bias. The solution is an analysis of completed marriage cohorts. After about four years of
marriage the hazard rate for divorce declines monotonically (Diekmann and Mitter 1984;
Goldstein 1999). After 30 years the hazard is negligible.1 By this point most couples inclined to
call it quits will have done so. Since the GSS measures age at first marriage it is possible to
identify respondents for whom 30 years have passed since the time they first wed. At this point a
marriage cohort is essentially completed—either first marriages have long since dissolved or
their participants are probably together for life—allowing researchers to study trends in the
intergenerational transmission of divorce without worrying whether right censoring is affecting
the results.
1 The probability of divorce increases during the first four years of marriage, presumably the time when spouses
determine whether they are compatible. Thereafter the exit costs steadily mount as spouses accumulate personal,
familial, social, and economic reasons for staying together. Although strictly speaking marriage cohorts are only
fully completed upon the death of all involved parties, few couples consider divorce after thirty years of marriage.
In support of this point I analyzed event history data on first marriage duration from the 1995 Current Population
Survey’s Marriage and Fertility Supplement (N = 34,698). At thirty years of marriage the monthly hazard rate for
dissolution is .004.
4
METHODS
Data
This research uses data from the General Social Survey (GSS) (Davis and Smith 2007).
The GSS, a national probability sample of English-speaking households within the continental
United States, has been conducted annually or biennially since 1972. Within each household an
adult ages 18-89 is randomly selected as the respondent. I use data for the years 1973-1994,
excluding the Black oversamples in 1982 and 1987. After 1994 the GSS ceased inquiring about
age at first marriage, and did not do so again until 2006. The 1972 survey did not adequately
measure family structure of origin.
Analysis is limited to respondents for whom at least thirty years has passed since they
first married (N = 7,226). Cases with missing data are deleted listwise except for parental
education (an additional dummy is coded for missing data) and occupational status (missing data
are set to the sample mean with a dummy for missing data).
Variables
The dependent measure in all analyses is whether a respondent reports ever having been
divorced (summary statistics for all variables appear in Table 1). A single dichotomous measure
was formed by merging information from two questions, one inquiring whether respondents have
ever been divorced and the other querying respondents about current marital status. Never-
married respondents are excluded from the analysis; previous research suggests that differential
5
selection into marriage cannot explain trends in the divorce cycle (Wolfinger 2005: Appendix B).
Unfortunately the GSS does not have adequate data for event history analysis of divorce
(including event history analysis with time-varying covariates).
Table 1 Here
The GSS includes two items that measure the structure of respondents' families of origin.
Respondents were first queried about household composition at age 16. If respondents were not
living with both biological parents, a second item ascertained the reason. Following Wolfinger
(1999), my analysis is based on GSS respondents who reported the three most common varieties
of family structure: intact two-parent families, mother-only families resulting from divorce or
separation, and mother/step-father families resulting from divorce or separation. Respondents
reporting other living arrangements are omitted from the sample, as were those whose living
arrangements at age 16 were the product of parental military service, parental incarceration, or
parental death. The family structure items are recoded as a single dummy variable measuring
whether a respondent hailed from a divorced family (including stepfamilies).
Analyses include continuous variables measuring three different dimensions of time:
marriage cohort, birth cohort, and survey year. Wolfinger (1999) uses survey year as the
temporal index for studying trends in the divorce cycle; Li and Wu (2008) use marriage cohort. I
present regression results based on different combinations of these three variables. None of the
three are mean-centered. Doing so produces virtually identical results. No model contains both
birth cohort and marriage cohort given their high correlation (r = .92). Alternate model
specifications are discussed in greater detail in the appendix.
On average, adults reared in nonintact households complete fewer years of schooling
(McLanahan and Sandefur 1994) and do less well vocationally (Biblarz and Raftery 1993). To
6
ascertain whether trends in the divorce cycle are the result of diminished socioeconomic well-
being, I use three variables, occupational prestige for respondents and education for both
respondents and their parents. For respondents reared in intact families and step-families the
higher level of education between the two parents is used. For people from mother-only families
I use mothers' education. Measures of income or occupational status for respondents’ parents
would be helpful but are not available. An item that asks respondents to recall their families'
economic well-being almost certainly fails to provide accurate recollections.
Researchers have shown that various other factors may affect the relationship between
parental divorce and respondent divorce. I ascertain whether the following affect trends in the
probability of divorce transmission: race (Bumpass, Martin, and Sweet 1991; Glenn and Kramer
1987; McLanahan and Bumpass 1988), presence of siblings (Mueller and Pope 1977),
Catholicism (McLanahan and Bumpass 1988), rural origins (Pope and Mueller 1976), age at
marriage (Wolfinger 2003a, 2005), and gender (Amato 1996; Glenn and Kramer 1987; Kulka
and Weingarten 1979). Controlling for gender is especially important because men often fail to
report their own divorces (Bumpass, Martin, and Sweet 1991).
Analysis
I estimate logistic regression models assuming the following general form:
log (p / 1 - p) = ß0 + ß1DIV + ß2TIME + ß3TIME*DIV + ß4CONTROL, (1)
7
where p is the probability of respondent divorce, DIV is the dummy measuring whether
respondents hail from divorced families, TIME is survey year, marriage cohort, or birth cohort,
and CONTROL represents miscellaneous control variables. The interaction between family
background and survey year, marriage cohort, or birth cohort allows for exploration of trends in
the divorce cycle; previous research indicates that the functional form of the decline in divorce
transmission is linear (Wolfinger 1999, 2005). Robust standard errors based on primary
sampling units are reported to account for the cluster-sample design of the GSS.
RESULTS
The logistic regression analysis of completed marriage cohorts appears in Table 2.
Model 1 follows the lead of Wolfinger (1999) by using survey year as the temporal index
measuring trends in the divorce cycle. All variables in this model are statistically significant,
most notably the interaction between parental divorce and survey year. As in Wolfinger, the
negative coefficient for this interaction indicates that divorce transmission has declined over time
for GSS respondents in completed marriage cohorts. The magnitude of the decline can be
obtained by substituting values for the year variable into the following equation, derived from
the parameter estimates shown for Model 1:
odds of divorce transmission = exp(72.421 - .036*SURVEY YEAR) (2)
For 1973, the equation yields an odds ratio of 4.03. This indicates that GSS respondents from
divorced families interviewed in 1973 were about four times more likely to report a personal
8
divorce than were respondents who lived with both biological parents at age 16. By 1994, this
ratio had declined to 1.89. These figures represent a larger decline in the intergenerational
transmission of divorce than was reported by Wolfinger (1999). Based on completed marriage
cohorts, this result cannot be an artifact of the right censoring bias alleged by Li and Wu (2008).
Furthermore, the data span many years: birth cohorts from 1884 to 1948, marriage cohorts from
1901 to 1964, and GSS waves from 1973 to 1994.
Table 2 Here
Survey year is not the best index for trends in divorce transmission in an analysis of
completed cohorts, given that the period of high divorce risk in a marriage has long since passed
(Diekmann and Mitter 1984; Goldstein 1999). Model 2 offers results based on the interaction
between marriage cohort and parental divorce. Survey year is also included in order to account
for survey-specific change. Model 3 omits survey year, while Model 4 shows results based on
the interaction between birth cohort and parental divorce. In all three cases the interaction term
measuring trends in the intergenerational transmission of divorce is negative and statistically
significant at the p < .10 level. These results show that the trend in the divorce cycle is robust to
alternative model specifications.
It might be argued that statistical significance at .10 is less than impressive, but the point
of the analysis of completed cohorts is not to produce the definitive assessment of trends in
divorce transmission based on the GSS; this has already been accomplished by Wolfinger
(1999). Instead, my objective is to rule out the possibility that the trend in the divorce cycle is a
product of improper controls for right censoring as alleged by Li and Wu (2008). This is amply
demonstrated by the significance tests in Models 1-4: these tests should have been nowhere near
significance if Li and Wu (2008) had been correct in their criticism of Wolfinger (1999).
9
Moreover, it could be argued that one-tailed tests are appropriate for my analysis given my
directional hypothesis: divorce transmission has declined over time. If one-tailed tests are used,
my results in Models 1-4 are all significant at the .05 level.
Model 5 introduces a variety of social and demographic variables into the analysis.
These variables attenuate the effect of parental divorce on offspring marital stability, as the
interaction between marriage cohort and parental divorce becomes nonsignificant. This finding
is consistent with the argument that the etiology of divorce transmission is partially attributable
to social differences between respondents (Amato 1996; Wolfinger 2005).
DISCUSSION
Although my analysis of completed cohorts provides compelling evidence that the
divorce cycle abated, it is important to acknowledge what others have found. Four American
studies (Amato and Cheadle 2005; Li and Wu 2008; McLanahan and Bumpass 1988; Teachman
2002) show that divorce transmission has remained stable over time.2 Teachman provided the
strongest test, analyzing multiple waves of the National Survey of Family Growth; McLanahan
and Bumpass employed a single wave of this survey. Amato and Cheadle used a sample of
parents and children from the Marital Instability Over the Life Course survey. On the other
hand, Engelhardt, Trappe, and Dronkers (2002) found equivocal evidence of a decline in divorce
2 A cross-national study of mainly European countries also failed to find evidence of a trend in divorce transmission
(Dronkers and Härkönen 2008). This finding was relegated to a single sentence, so it is difficult to evaluate fully.
The authors combine data for eighteen countries with different divorce rates, which may obscure possible trends in
the divorce cycle.
10
transmission in Germany. Diekmann and Engelhardt (1999) provide somewhat stronger
evidence of a decline, also in Germany.
Additional evidence of the weakening of the negative consequences of parental divorce
exists for outcomes besides its transmission between generations. Kulka and Weingarten (1979)
found that parental divorce had fewer negative effects on survey respondents interviewed in
1976 than it did for a comparable sample from 1957. Amato and Keith’s (1991) meta-analysis of
almost 100 studies found that the average negative effect of parental divorce on offspring well-
being has weakened over time.3 More recently, Wolfinger (2003b, 2005) showed that rates of
teenage marriage for the children of divorce declined disproportionately faster than they did for
offspring from two-parent families. This by itself should prolong the marriages of people from
divorced families. Teenage marriage is strongly correlated with divorce; in turn, age at marriage
can itself account for a portion of the divorce cycle (Wolfinger 2003a, 2005). The final piece of
evidence is indirect. Dronkers and Härkönen (2008) recently found that the probability of
divorce transmission varied inversely by the level of parental divorce across eighteen European
countries. In other words, the divorce cycle was strongest when parental divorce was least
common. This is analogous to Wolfinger (1999), with the prevalence of parental divorce varying
by country instead of historical time.
Taken together, existing studies reveal profound dissensus about the possibility that
divorce transmission has abated over time. At the same time, there are enough studies
suggesting a decline in the negative consequences of parental divorce that it is hard to deny that
no such decline has taken place. My disagreement with Li and Wu (2008) should be read in this
3 A later meta-analysis found that effect sizes have since increased (Amato 2001). Wolfinger (2005) proposes an
explanation of why Amato’s two meta-analyses produced conflicting results on this point.
11
context. Based on the present study, there is little doubt that the GSS is showing a decline in the
negative consequences of growing up with divorced parents. Other studies using GSS data also
provide evidence of a decline (Wolfinger 1999, 2003b, 2005). However, studies based on most
other data sets suggest that the divorce cycle has not abated.
How can this discrepancy be explained? Although the nature of the differences between
data sets cannot be known with certainty, one possibility concerns the extremely long time frame
covered by the GSS. As noted earlier, my sample contains 63 years of marriage cohorts;
Wolfinger’s (1999) sample spanned 92 years of marriages. Many 19th century births are
represented in these data. Perhaps this is the difference from other data sets that fail to evince
the decline in divorce transmission reported by this paper and Wolfinger (1999).
The literature on divorce is replete with conflicts, controversies, and unresolved issues.
For instance, over twenty-five studies have produced conflicting evidence as to whether parental
divorce leads to earlier or later marriage among offspring, or has no effect at all (Wolfinger
2003b, 2005). Fifteen studies suggest that parental divorce leads to earlier marriage, while seven
others find that parental divorce delays marriage; still others find no relationship. The question
of trends in the divorce cycle is similarly conflicted.
The ideal solution is more research with new data that combines the best features of
existing data sets. A repeated survey, like the General Social Survey, allows analysts to better
separate age, period, and cohort effects in the intergenerational transmission of divorce;
retrospective data based on a single cross-section, like the sample analyzed by Li and Wu (2008),
allow researchers less insight into the temporal dynamics of divorce transmission (Mason and
Wolfinger 2001). The ideal data set should have sufficient information for event history
analysis. It should also offer details on family structure backgrounds of married couples, not just
12
individual respondents. The family histories of both spouses contribute equally to the likelihood
of divorce transmission (Amato 1996; Wolfinger 2003a, 2005). Furthermore, the divorce cycle
is strongest for people who experience multiple family structure transitions in their families of
origin (Wolfinger 2000, 2005). An optimal exploration of trends in the intergenerational
transmission of divorce would take all these factors into account.
CONCLUSION
The jury is still out on the extent to which the consequences of parental divorce have
diminished over time. Nonetheless, my analysis provides incontrovertible evidence of a decline
in divorce transmission according to General Social Survey data. Based on completed cohorts,
this analysis establishes that trends in the divorce cycle cannot be attributed to the absence of
proper event history data (pace Li and Wu 2008). In addition, the GSS shows that the effect of
parental divorce on offspring marriage timing has also weakened (Wolfinger 2003b, 2005).
This paper has also demonstrated a completed cohorts approach to studying marital
stability. In the absence of event history data, this technique can be used for exploring how
individual characteristics affect the probability of divorce—and potentially other right-censored
phenomena—without having to take right censoring bias into account. The completed cohorts
approach indeed has a long-standing precedent in the demographic literature, the study of
completed fertility (e.g., Bumpass and Westoff 1969). It may also be applicable to studies of
marriage timing, given that the probability of getting married for the first time asymptotically
approaches zero past a certain age (Goldstein and Kenney 2001).
13
There are at least two obvious shortcomings to the completed cohort approach to divorce.
First, it offers no insight into how trends in the divorce cycle have changed in recent years.
Second, the results may be influenced by selective mortality. The work of Linda Waite and
others (e.g., Waite and Gallagher 2000) demonstrates that divorced people die younger; it has
also been shown that parental divorce decreases life expectancy (Schwartz et al. 1995).
However, selective mortality is a generic problem that affects much social research.
14
Appendix. Alternate Analytic Specifications.
The difference between age and age at first marriage, employed by Wolfinger (1999,
2005) as a control variable, is omitted given that all respondents are at least thirty years removed
from the time they first married. Also, this variable is highly correlated (r = -.81) with marriage
cohort.
Age is highly correlated with marriage cohort (r = -.73) and accordingly omitted. Its
inclusion does not substantially affect results. I experimented with other alternate specifications
involving temporal variables: Omitting marriage cohort in lieu of survey year, including time
since first marriage and survey year instead of marriage cohort, including two-way interactions
between marriage cohort, parental divorce and survey year in an attempt to further control for
duration dependence (see Wolfinger 2005: Appendix A), and varying the definition of a
completed marriage cohort from 25 to 40 years. In each case a decline in divorce transmission
persisted.
It could conceivably be argued that GSS respondents from divorced families are
somehow over- or under-represented in the sample of completed cohorts in a way that produces a
spurious decline in divorce transmission. The time elapsed since the date of first marriage is two
years greater for people from intact families, perhaps reflecting trends in marriage timing for the
children of divorce (Wolfinger 2003b, 2005). Could this have any effect on my results? It
seems unlikely given the miniscule hazard of marital dissolution after thirty years—two fewer
years of exposure at this point could not substantially affect the trend in divorce transmission.
Nevertheless, I explored this possibility by selectively redefining the definition of a completed
marriage cohort for people from divorced and intact families by up to five years in both
15
directions (i.e., alternately higher and lower entry ages for people from divorced and intact
families). In all cases, the trend in the divorce cycle persisted.
In a working paper version of their Demography article, Li and Wu (2006: 37) present a
reanalysis of Wolfinger (1999) that supposedly establishes that any trend in divorce transmission
based on the GSS is a methodological artifact. They report the results of sixteen logistic
regression models using Wolfinger’s (1999) GSS sample and methods. The models analyze
successively smaller intervals of exposure to the risk of divorce:
Model Exposure time (in years)
1 0-32
2 2-32
3 4-32
. . .
14 26-32
15 28-32
16 30-32
The first eight models reveal a trend in the divorce cycle consistent with my paper and Wolfinger
(1999). After Model 8 (exposure time = 16-32 years), the negative regression coefficient
denoting a trend in divorce transmission loses statistical significance. Is this evidence against
my finding of a trend in the divorce cycle based on the GSS? In response, I point out that I agree
with Li and Wu (2006: 9) about the crudity of their analysis: it is arbitrary in its choice of
16
intervals of exposure time. Why should Model 16 use 30-32 years as opposed to 28-30 years,
32-34 years, or any other two year window of data?
I reanalyzed Wolfinger’s (1999) sample, replicating Li and Wu’s Model 16 for all two
year intervals between zero and 60 years. According to the logic of Li and Wu’s (2006) Table 4,
two year intervals should not depict trends in the divorce cycle because such trends are assumed
to be artifacts of longer exposure times. Yet four of the intervals I analyzed indeed suggest large
and statistically significant trends. The trends approach significance in two other models.
More broadly, my analysis of two year intervals is not evidence for or against a trend in
the divorce cycle based on the entire GSS sample. Many of these intervals have sample sizes too
small for trends in divorce transmission to be emergent. My point here is simply that shortening
the exposure duration for GSS data does not necessarily make observed trends in divorce
transmission go away. As Li and Wu (2006: 9) seem to concede, “The[se] analyses . . . using
the GSS [General Social Survey] are relatively crude because assessing the sensitivity of results
to different durations of exposure required relying on different GSS subsamples.”
17
REFERENCES
Allison, P.D. 1984. Event History Analysis: Regression for Longitudinal Data. Sage University
Papers on Quantitative Applications in the Social Sciences, series no. 07-046. Newbury
Park, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.
________. 1995. Survival Analysis using the SAS System: A Practical Guide. Cary, NC: SAS
Institute, Inc.
Amato, P.R. 1996. “Explaining the Intergenerational Transmission of Divorce.” Journal of
Marriage and the Family 58:628-640.
________. 2001. “Children of Divorce in the 1990s: An Update of the Amato and Keith (1991)
Meta-Analysis.” Journal of Family Psychology 15:355-370.
Amato, P.R. and J. Cheadle. 2005. “The Long Reach of Divorce: Divorce and Child Well-Being
across Three Decades.” Journal of Marriage and Family 67:191-206.
Amato, P.R. and B. Keith. 1991. “Parental Divorce and the Well-Being of Children: A 'Meta-
Analysis'.” Psychological Bulletin 110:26-46.
Biblarz, T.J. and A.E. Raftery. “The Effects of Family Disruption on Social Mobility.” American
Sociological Review 58:97-109.
Bumpass, L.L., T.C. Martin, and J.A. Sweet. 1991. “The Impact of Family Background and
Early Marital Factors on Marital Disruption.” Journal of Family Issues 12:22-42.
Bumpass, L. and C.F. Westoff. 1969. “The Prediction of Completed Fertility.” Demography
6:445-454.
Cherlin, A.J. 1992. Marriage, Divorce, Remarriage, revised edition. Cambridge, MA: Harvard
University Press.
18
Davis, J.A. and T.W. Smith. 2007. General Social Surveys, 1972-2006 [machine-readable data
file] /Principal Investigator, James A. Davis; Director and Co-Principal Investigator, Tom
W. Smith; Co-Principal Investigator, Peter V. Marsden; Sponsored by National Science
Foundation. --NORC ed.-- Chicago: National Opinion Research Center [producer];
Storrs, CT: The Roper Center for Public Opinion Research, University of Connecticut
[distributor].
Diekmann, A. and H. Engelhardt. 1999. “The Social Inheritance of Divorce: Effects of Parent's
Family Type in Postwar Germany.” American Sociological Review 64:783-793.
Diekmann, A. and P. Mitter. 1984. “A Comparison of the “Sickle Function” with Alternative
Stochastic Models of Divorce Rates.” Pp. 123-153 in Stochastic Modeling of Social
Processes, edited by A. Diekmann and P. Mitter. Orlando, FL: Academic Press, Inc.
Dronkers, J. and J. Härkönen. 2008. “The Intergenerational Transmission of Divorce in Cross-
National Perspective: Results from the Fertility and Family Surveys.” Population Studies
62:273-288.
Engelhardt, H., H. Trappe, and J. Dronkers. 2002. “Differences in Family Policy and the
Intergenerational Transmission of Divorce: A Comparison between the Former East and
West Germanies.” Demographic Research 6:296-324.
Glenn, N.D. and K.B. Kramer. 1987. “The Marriages and Divorces of the Children of Divorce.”
Journal of Marriage and the Family 49:811-825.
Goldstein, J.R. 1999. “The Leveling of Divorce in the United States.” Demography 36:409-414.
Goldstein, J.R. and C.T. Kenney. 2001. “Marriage Delayed or Marriage Foregone? New Cohort
Forecasts of First Marriage for U.S. Women.” American Sociological Review 66:506-
519.
19
Kulka, R.A. and H. Weingarten. 1979. “The Long-Term Effects of Parental Divorce in
Childhood in Adult Adjustment.” The Journal of Social Issues 35:50-78.
Li, J.-C.A. and L.L. Wu. 2006. “No Trend in the Intergenerational Transmission of Divorce.”
National Survey of Families and Households Working Paper # 94, University of
Wisconsin, Madison.
________. 2008. “No Trend in the Intergenerational Transmission of Divorce.” Demography
45:875-883.
Mason, W.M. and N.H. Wolfinger. 2001. “Cohort Analysis.” Pp. 2189-2194 in International
Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences, edited by N.J. Smelser and P.B.
Baltes. Amsterdam: Elsevier Science.
McLanahan, S.S. and L.L. Bumpass. 1988. “Intergenerational Consequences of Family
Disruption.” American Journal of Sociology 94:130-152.
McLanahan, S.S. and G. Sandefur. 1994. Growing Up with a Single Parent: What Hurts, What
Helps. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Mueller, C.W. and H. Pope. 1977. “Marital Instability: A Study of its Transmission Between
Generations.” Journal of Marriage and the Family 39:83-93.
Nock, S.L., L.A. Sanchez, and J.D. Wright. 2008. Covenant Marriage: The Movement to
Reclaim Tradition in America. New Jersey: Rutgers University Press.
Pope, H. and C.W. Mueller. 1976. “The Intergenerational Transmission of Marital Instability:
Comparisons by Race and Sex.” The Journal of Social Issues 32:49-66.
Schwartz, J., H.S. Friedman, J.S. Tucker, C. Tomlinson-Keasey, D.L. Wingard, and M.H. Criqui.
1995. “Sociodemographic and Psychosocial Factors in Childhood as Predictors of Adult
Mortality.” American Journal of Public Health 85:1237-1245.
20
Teachman, J.D. 2002. “Stability across Cohorts in Divorce Risk Factors.” Demography 39:331-
351.
Waite, L.J. and M. Gallagher. 2000. The Case for Marriage: Why Married People are Happier,
Healthier, and Better off Financially. New York: Doubleday.
Wolfinger, N.H. 1999. “Trends in the Intergenerational Transmission of Divorce.” Demography
36:415-420.
________. 2000. “Beyond the Intergenerational Transmission of Divorce: Do People Replicate
the Patterns of Marital Instability They Grew Up With?” Journal of Family Issues
21:1062-1086.
________. 2003a. “Family Structure Homogamy: The Effects of Parental Divorce on Partner
Selection and Marital Stability.” Social Science Research 32:80-97.
________. 2003b. “Parental Divorce and Offspring Marriage: Early or Late?” Social Forces
82:337-353.
________. 2005. Understanding the Divorce Cycle: The Children of Divorce in Their Own
Marriages. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Table 1. Summary Statistics.
Mean/
Variable percentage S.D. Min. Max.
Respondent has ever divorced .233 .423 0 1
Respondent from divorced family .053 .223 0 1
Survey year 1983.413 6.413 1973 1994
Marriage cohort 1940.364 10.754 1901 1964
Birth cohort 1918.358 11.213 1884 1948
Non-urban at age 16 .711 .453 0 1
Only child .049 .217 0 1
Male .376 .484 0 1
Black .082 .274 0 1
Catholic .214 .410 0 1
Occupational prestige 39.413 12.106 12 82
Occupational prestige missing .229 .420 0 1
Age at first marriage 22.005 4.377 12 49
Parent education
Less than H.S. 65% -- -- --
H.S. graduate 22 -- -- --
Junior college 1 -- -- --
College graduate 3 -- -- --
Post graduate 2 -- -- --
-- -- --
Data missing 7 -- -- --
Respondent education
Less than H.S. 43% -- -- --
H.S. graduate 44 -- -- --
Junior college 2 -- -- --
College graduate 7 -- -- --
Post graduate 4 -- -- --
Notes : N is 7,226.
Source : General Social Surveys, 1973-1994.
Table 2. Logit Analysis of Respondent Divorce on Parental Divorce, Survey Year, and Marriage Cohort for Completed Cohorts.
Variables Model 1 Model 2 Model 3 Model 4 Model 5
Respondent from divorced family 72.421* 32.74432.33333.83631.456
(32.662) (19.068) (19.049) (18.604) (19.988)
Survey year .016* .013 -- .001 .017*
(.007) (.007) (.007) (.008)
Divorced family*survey year -.036* -- -- -- --
(.016) (.017)
Marriage cohort .025*** .026*** .026*** -- .030***
(.003) (.010) (.003) (.003)
Marriage cohort*survey year -- -.016-.016 -- .016
(.010) (.010) (.010)
Birth cohort -- -- -- .042*** --
(.003)
Birth cohort*survey year -- -- -- -.017 --
(.010)
Parent education
Less than H.S. -- -- -- -- --
H.S. graduate -- -- -- -- .183*
(.076)
Junior college -- -- -- -- .017
(.325)
College graduate -- -- -- -- .150
(.165)
Post graduate -- -- -- -- .610**
(.216)
Data missing -- -- -- -- .292**
(.114)
Non-urban at age 16 -- -- -- -- -.183**
(.064)
Only child -- -- -- -- .132
(.124)
Male -- -- -- -- .172**
(.063)
Black -- -- -- -- .045
(.117)
Catholic -- -- -- -- -.406***
(.081)
Respondent education
Less than H.S. -- -- -- -- --
H.S. graduate -- -- -- -- -.124
(.068)
Junior college -- -- -- -- .370
(.193)
College graduate -- -- -- -- -.165
(.140)
Post graduate -- -- -- -- -.353
(.182)
Occupational prestige -- -- -- -- -.003
(.003)
Occupational prestige missing -- -- -- -- -.245**
(.087)
Age at first marriage -.111***
-- -- -- -- (.009)
Constant -80.588** -77.735*** -59.626*** -79.581*** -92.706***
(12.437) (12.444) (6.000) (12.473) (14.371)
Log likelihood -3824.05 -3825.07 -3828.34 -3765.48 -3674.86
Notes : N is 7,226.
Cluster-adjusted robust standard errors are in parentheses.
Source : General Social Surveys, 1973-1994.
p < .10; *p < .05; **p < .01; ***p < .001 (two-tailed tests)
... However, there is a lack of discussion about how having a white or a nonwhite parent influences the probability of marrying a white spouse. Moreover, we do not know if endogamy is intergenerationally influenced, as is the choice between marriage and cohabitation (Thornton et al. 2007), and the decision to divorce (Wolfinger 2011). In this sense, the paper focuses on partner's choice as part of an intergenerational process and recognizes the importance of understanding it as a social reproduction phenomenon. ...
... Parental characteristics are important for explaining a series of outcomes for children, such as, health, education and occupation. Some studies have shown that family formation and dissolution are influenced by parental characteristics (Mare 2008;Thornton et al. 2007;Wolfinger 2011). The potential mechanisms noting that parental characteristics may influence the partner choice of children are based on Kalmijn's (1998) discussion about the factors that influence assortative mating. ...
... Thornton, 2007) and dissolution of their children (i.e. Wolfinger, 2011). ...
... Some of the terms include "life courses," "parent-child relationships," and "intergenerational relations," with the problem of maintaining relationships among the parties being one of the most common challenges when parental divorce occur (Riggio and Valenzuela 2011;Sobolewski and Amato 2007). Other keywords include, "young adulthood," "adolescents," and "intergenerational transmission" (Wolfinger 2011) as shown in Figure 2. Marital union breakdown can lead to "family conflict" and "instability" (Amato and Cheadle 2008), an environment that has negative influence on the "life course" of the members with farreaching consequences. For the "adolescents," growing up in an atmosphere of strife can affect the youthful years of the offspring leading to child delinquencies and "behavioral problems" (Wallerstein 2005;Chung and Emery 2010). ...
Article
This paper offers a descriptive narrative and visualization of the life challenges children and parents face after the trauma and anxieties created by divorce. Using data from 1339 published documents indexed on the Web of Science and a visual analytics technique, the study highlights several challenges. Marital union breakdown has significant negative consequences on the household members, with severe economic effects on women and children. Parental divorce causes damaging effects on children and can lead to antisocial and behavioral problems and psychological and health problems. Also, adversities from divorce can have multidimensional consequences on the parties.
... or significant cohort effects (e.g.,Diekmann and Engelhardt 1999;Diekmann and Klein 1991;Teachman 2002;De Graaf and Kalmijn 2006b;Härkönen and Dronkers 2006;Wagner et al. 2015); or considered both cohort and period measures (e.g.,Salvini and Vignoli 2011;Villiger 2017;Wolfinger 2011). ...
Chapter
Full-text available
While intensive and ongoing research on the determinants of marital stability has resulted in the identification of a large number of risk factors, the question of why there has been a nearly continuous upward trend in divorce rates in many developed countries has yet to be answered. This upward trend continued over a period of more than one hundred years, and ended – at least in some countries – in the late twentieth century or early twenty-first century. The aim of this paper is to review the theoretical concepts and the empirical findings of studies that have investigated historical trends in divorce rates. Some authors have argued that the quality of marriages has declined, while others have attributed this trend to a weakening of the barriers to divorce, or to increased opportunities to meet alternative partners. Theories of social change generally emphasize the role of either modernization or normative change in marital dissolution patterns. Given the evidence that the cohort and the period effects on the divorce rate cannot be explained by socioeconomic variables, it seems likely that increasing divorce rates are better explained by cultural than by socioeconomic changes.
... This, in turn, causes a significant reduction in a couple's satisfaction and happiness (Amato & Beattie, 2011;Jensen & Smith, 1990). For example, according to Henson (2005) and Jalovaara (2003), unemployment is an important contributor to couples' disputes (Hansen, 2005;Jalovaara, 2003) and pushes both husband and wife towards a more hostile family environment (Wolfinger, 2011). ...
Article
Full-text available
Divorce is considered as an important social and public health concern worldwide. The aim of this study was to identify divorce’s social and economic contributors among Iranian couples. This case-control study was conducted on 60 divorced and their neighboring 64 still-married couples with approximately the same date of marriage. The required information was obtained from consultant administrated forms which are used routinely by Iranian family consulting centers. An interview-administered questionnaire with almost the same structure and questions was used to obtain information from still-married couples. Based on the results of multivariable analysis and (stepwise) selection of the study variables, significant associations between divorce and employment of both husbands and wives, education of husband, and the couple’s accommodation statuses were found. Accordingly, wife's (OR unemployed/self-employed=4.97, 95%CI: 1.38-21.61, P=0.001) and husband's (OR unemployed/self-employed =17.45, 95%CI: 3.56-123.98, P=0.001) unemployment, less educated husband's (OR primary or secondary/higher education =23.98, 95%CI=4.04-237.05, p=0.001) and couples with shared accommodation (OR dependent/independent= 5.99, 95%CI=2.54-17.72, P<0.001) were at higher risk of divorce. ROC analysis suggested that divorce can be confidently predicted by the above factors (AUC=0.882 95%CI: 0.816-0.948) with 66.7% sensitivity and 92.6% specificity. This study introduced several predictors, which can be used by family consultants and psychologists to recognize high risk marrying or married couples to prevent divorce and to help couples to obtain and sustain healthier marriages and stronger family relationships.
Article
This study undertakes a bibliometric analysis, science mapping, and visualization of the consequences of marital union dissolution on the household members, including parents, children, and other relations. We also analyze the temporal trends of the scientific production and citation of author sand sources, and institutions/ countries' collaborations using data from published documents indexed on SCOPUS within the last four decades. The paper highlights five outcomes. First, there is an upward trend in scientific production on divorce and the consequences, which mirrors the increasing divorce rate in different cultures and societies. Second, the clusters of terms identify various adverse effects of divorce on the household members, including a severe economic impact on women and children. Even the dissolution of bad marriage carries significant emotional and psychological pains on the household members. Third, parental divorce can constitute an adverse childhood experience with potentially long-term consequences in some cases where the offspring cannot recover from the emotional trauma. Fourth, divorce can cause health problems, including social, behavioral, psychological, and mental health problems to the parents and children, and economic challenges. Fifth, the results using network analysis show that the consequences of divorce are not linear but multi-directional. Finally, most research output originates from countries with a high divorce rate. The study reveals upward trends in the literature production, the divorce rate across all marriage groups and social status, and religious groups. The paper contributes to integrating scholarship in divorce consequences.
Article
Full-text available
Marital satisfaction and stability are important aspects of family life that shapes people’s health and well-being. The objective of this study was to measure the relationship between marital satisfaction and stability among married individuals in Nifas Silk Lafto Sub-City, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The target population for this study was all heterosexual married individuals, legally bound by the state of marriage as husband and wife. For this study, a systematic sampling technique along with a simple random sampling technique was employed to select 326 households. Frequency and percentage, means, standard deviation, and Pearson correlation were all used. The results showed that marital satisfaction and stability were significantly and positively correlated among married individuals, r = .68, α < .001. Females’ marital satisfaction and stability were strongly and significantly correlated p = .74, α < .001. Marital satisfaction and stability were also strongly and positively associated among males, p = .59, α < .001. In conclusion, the findings have significant implications in the enhancement of marital satisfaction and stability of married individuals, prevention of spouses’ conflict and divorce in the study sub-city of Addis Ababa. Keywords: Marital Satisfaction; Marital Stability; Married Individuals; Pearson Correlation.
Article
Full-text available
In a world riven by conflict, violent extremism and sectarian animosities, peace is in short supply. Promoting peace is, however, central to the great traditions of faith, including Islam. Contrary to their core precepts, fear, hatred and envy drive an evil mis-construal of the core tenets of these religions; the antithesis of their fundamental commitment to the promotion of tolerance, care and compassion. Contemporary events defy comprehension and highlight the urgent need to find ways, especially within families and the communities in which they live, to counter radicalisation. Families, after all, ought to be key contexts for promoting dialogue, understanding and peace, consistent with the precepts of the Abrahamic religious traditions, and the Qur’anic focus on families that sees them as the forum for fulfilling the basic Islamic foundations of peace. Strong families build capable, caring and compassionate communities. The present paper briefly outlines a three-element model that might be usefully applied to better understand the processes of development of prosocial attitudes, beliefs and behaviours that are so vital for peaceful, constructive and compassionate co-existence; attributes that are so vitally needed in an increasingly multi-cultural, multi-ethnic and multi-faith world. The elements are encapsulated in three conceptually linked acronyms: TRUST; LEARN; CARE or TLC. The trust, learn, care (TLC) framework has been developed from key principles in the new discipline of family studies. Global changes present many challenges for families and communities. This article concludes that a peaceful and harmonious future will be built on the foundations for dialogue and understanding that start in families and communities. Trust and tolerance, learning and teaching, caring and compassion are at the heart of acceptance of diversity, growth of understanding and promotion of respect for cultures, religions and beliefs.
Chapter
Full-text available
We address two key research questions. First, is there an association between parental separation and living with a stepparent in childhood and maladjustment in adulthood? Second, we examine the role conflict plays in these associations. We study whether parental union dissolution is only detrimental in cases of heightened post-divorce interparental conflict. We build upon this “good divorce” hypothesis by considering whether the possible association between living in a stepfamily and depressive symptomatology is only present in cases of high stepparent-child conflict (a “good stepparent” hypothesis). Using data from the OKiN survey (Parents and Children in the Netherlands), we analyze the self-reported depressive feelings of Dutch adults aged 25–35. Of our sample, 2233 adults experienced parental separation in childhood (on average, 22 years before data collection); of those, n = 1665 had lived with a stepparent. Our findings clearly indicate that having experienced parental divorce is associated with an increase in depressive symptoms only for those adults who were exposed to heightened post-divorce interparental conflict. Similarly, living with a stepparent is linked to maladjustment only in cases of high stepparent-child conflict. Importantly, we find evidence that a low-conflict stepfather-child tie could even buffer against maladjustment (which is not the case for a low-conflict stepmother-child tie).
Article
Full-text available
The paper investigates the intergenerational transmission of divorce in China with the data from The China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study (CHARLS). The empirical results show that parental divorce increases the odd ratio of children’s divorce significantly by 104.12% in complementary log-log model at 5% level with control variables, which means the probability of their children’s divorce will increase significantly. We adopt two models to investigate the heterogeneity in the intergenerational transmission of divorce. Firstly, according to the age when children experiencing parental divorce, the sample is divided into four groups:0-3 years old, 4-11 years old, 12-17 years old and over 17 years old. Secondly, based on whether parents remarry or not, the sample is also divided into four groups: none, just father, just mother and both remarry. The estimation results show that, the effect of parental divorce is more significant for those who experienced the parental divorce between the age of 4 and 11, the odds ratio would add by 174.39% significantly in complementary log-log model at 5% level with control variables. If just father remarried after parental divorced, odds ratio of divorce would increase by 361.09% in complementary log-log model at 1% level with control variables.
Article
Full-text available
Data are used from both waves of the National Survey of Families and Households to test the hypothesis that individuals who experience many parental relationship transitions will often reproduce these behaviors as adults by dissolving multiple marriages. This hypothesis is confirmed, and the findings are essentially unchanged when controlling for socioeconomic characteristics of both respondents and their families of origin. These results are consistent with the family change hypothesis, which attributes the deleterious consequences of nonintact parenting to the strain of experiencing family structure transitions rather than the state of living without a male role model or the poverty often induced by parental divorce. Finally, the findings reconceptualize the often-studied intergenerational transmission of divorce. Neither family structure of origin nor offspring marital behavior can be treated as dichotomies: Multiple family structure transitions make things worse for children, and many of these children will end more than one marriage.
Article
Regardless how you interpret the statistics, the divorce rate in the United States is staggering. But, what if the government could change this? Would families be better off if new public policies made it more difficult for couples to separate? This book explores a movement that emerged over the past fifteen years, which aims to do just that. Guided by certain politicians and religious leaders who herald marriage as a solution to a range of longstanding social problems, a handful of state governments enacted "covenant marriage" laws, which require couples to choose between a conventional and a covenant marriage. While the familiar . . .
Book
Growing up in a divorced family can cause the children to have difficulties in maintaining relationships. Nicholas Wolfinger demonstrates the significant impact of parental divorce upon people's lives and society. The divorce cycle phenomena ensures the transmission of divorce from one generation to the next. This book examines how it has transformed family life in contemporary America by drawing on two national data sets. Compared to people from intact families, the children of divorced parents are more likely to marry as teenagers, but less likely to wed overall. They are more likely to marry other people from divorced families, but more likely to dissolve second and third marriages, and less likely to marry their live-in partners.
Article
A 1970 national sample of white ever-married females is used to explore the process of the intergenerational transmission of marital instability. The research examines the possibility that mate-selection outcomes operate as intervening variables between parent and child generation marital instability. Partial support is found for this: about one-half of the effect of parent instability is mediated by mate-selection out-comes, with the high-risk circumstances of early and limited-education marriages being the most important. The relevance of these mate selection circumstances in the transmission process is interpreted within the framework of social control and economic rationales.
Article
This study uses national longitudinal data to explain the intergenerational transmission of divorce. Parental divorce is associated with an increased risk of offspring divorce, especially when wives and both spouses have experienced the dissolution of their parents' marriage. Offspring age at marriage, cohabitation, socioeconomic attainment, and prodivorce attitudes mediate modest proportions of the estimated effect of parental divorce. In contrast, a measure of interpersonal behavior problems mediates the largest share of the association. The findings suggest that parental divorce elevates the risk of offspring divorce by increasing the likelihood that offspring exhibit behaviors that interfere with the maintenance of mutually rewarding intimate relationships.
Article
The experience of family disruption during childhood substantially increases men's odds of ending up in the lowest occupational stratum as opposed to the highest. Family disruption also weakens the association between dimensions of men's occupational origins and destinations. The socioeconomic destinations of men from nonintact family backgrounds bear less resemblance to their socioeconomic origins than those of men from intact backgrounds. Men from traditional two-parent homes exhibit a stronger pattern of intergenerational occupational inheritance than do men from disrupted families. These effects are the same for blacks and whites. Recent changes in family structure may lead to greater universalism in contemporary American society. -Authors