Leaving mum alone? The effect of divorce on leaving home decisions

Letizia Mencarini, University of Turin and Collegio Carlo Alberto
Elena C. Meroni, Università di Padova
Chiara Pronzato, Università Bocconi

There is a growing literature considering the relationship between parental divorce and children’s life-course patterns. However, there is no general consensus on whether a parental separation accelerates or postpones the family formation of their children. The aim of this paper is to add to this literature by analyzing the effect of divorce on the timing of leaving the parental home of young adults (i.e. the children of the divorced parents). The analysis touches on several important issues, many of which are related to self selection. Apart from providing descriptive findings using the recent Gender and Generations Survey (GGS), we assess the extent to which the associations are masked by selection effects. The first selection effect concerns the fact that children of divorced parents may have different background characteristics (for example, poorer family background) that make them in any case leave the parental home at a different rate? Two key questions arises in this setting: First, do children of divorced parents develop different characteristics that also make them more “unstable” in the marriage and labour market, which in turn make them leave the parental home a different rate? Secondly: do children of divorced people leave parental home at a different rate because the mother (with whom the children normally stay with following a divorce) would be alone at home in case they leave?

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Presented in Session 46: Intra-country variations in the transition to adulthood