Family Relationship and Child Wellbeing in Post-Separation Families

Research question/goal: 

A considerable body of literature has identified that post-separation children face disadvantages concerning their cognitive and social skills compared to children who live with both of their biological parents in a household. Most existing research analyses families in the US; only in the last years, the association between non-intact families and child outcomes has been examined increasingly in the continental European context. However, only few studies explicitly investigate mediators of this association.

In this project, we investigate the mediating effect of different types of conflicts that can occur in post-separation families. We distinguish conflicts between the two biological parents, between the mother and her new partner, between the child and each biological parent, and between the child and the stepparent in the household. Especially information about stepparent–child and step-parental relationship quality might improve our understanding of why children who live with their two biological parents fare better than those who live in stepfamilies. We focus on two child well-being indicators as outcome variables (behavioural problems and emotional symptoms), using data of 8- to 16-year-old children surveyed in the German Family Panel pairfam.

Current stage: 

We have enhanced our analysis of German survey datasets with a new subproject that leverages Norwegian registry data. This extensive dataset enables us to examine adaptation processes over time with increased statistical power. In a first study, we investigate the timing of parental separation and stepfamily formation, along with their impacts on children's academic performance. In the second paper based on Norwegian registry data concentrates on predicting children's cognitive abilities in the years preceding parental separation. Both studies have been presented at international conferences and are in the final stages of preparation for publication in international journals.

Fact sheet

2018 to 2024
Data Sources: 
survey dataset
Geographic Space: