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Impact of Divorce on Children of Immigrants

How divorce impacts school performance among children of immigrant mothers in Sweden
Copyright: Wavebreakmedia

Most research on the effects of family dynamics on children’s life chances based on immigrant background has focused on the United States. Authors Jeylan Erman and Juho Härkönen conducted one of the first studies that looked at Europe and sought to find out whether the effect of parental separation on educational achievement varies between immigrant backgrounds in Sweden. Using Swedish population register data on birth cohorts of children born in Sweden in 1995 and 1996, they found that the effect of parental separation varies between different immigrant backgrounds.

The results showed that socioeconomic and demographic variables explained some of the difference between ancestry groups. The effects of these variables can differ between the groups. For example, the gap in grades among children with Turkish mothers could not be explained by socioeconomic and demographic factors; the gap actually increased when the variables were added into the model.

In groups where divorce is more common, the authors found that the penalty of separation on children is smaller. This finding is usually explained as a result of divorce being more accepted and less stigmatized in certain communities, but the authors argued that this may not apply to Sweden since disapproval of divorce is low. Instead, they suggested that families of divorce are differently selected in communities where divorce is more common, but they also recommend more research to look into this finding.


Original Article: Erman, Jeylan & Härkönen, Juho (2017): Parental Separation and School Performance Among Children of Immigrant Mothers in Sweden. European Journal of Population 33(2): 267-292.