Effects of Parental Divorce on Teenage Children’s Risk Behaviors: Incidence and Persistence

Geir Wæhler Gustavsen, Rodolfo M. Nayga, Ximing Wu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


It is generally difficult to separate the effects of divorce from selection when analyzing the effects of parental divorce on children’s risk behaviors. We used propensity score matching and longitudinal data methods to estimate the effects of parents’ divorce on their children’s binge drinking, alcohol consumption, tobacco use, marijuana use, and hard drug use. The children were between 12 and 18 years old in the first survey and between 18 and 24 years old in the second survey. Our results suggest that parental divorce significantly increased the probability of risk behaviors in their children. Moreover, many of these adverse impacts persisted over time, especially among teenage girls.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)474-487
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Family and Economic Issues
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Sept 1

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The Research Council of Norway, Grants 190306/I10 and 233800/E50, provided financial support for this research. This research uses data from Add Health, a program project designed by J. Richard Udry, Peter S. Bearman, and Kathleen Mullan Harris, and funded by a grant P01-HD31921 from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, with cooperative funding from 17 other agencies. Special acknowledgment is due Ronald R. Rindfuss and Barbara Entwisle for assistance in the original design. Persons interested in obtaining data files from Add Health should contact Add Health, Carolina Population Center, 123 W. Franklin Street, Chapel Hill, NC 27516-2524 (addhealth@unc.edu).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015, Springer Science+Business Media New York.


  • Children’s outcome
  • Divorce
  • Propensity score
  • Random effects probit

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Economics and Econometrics


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