Unhealthy Conditions? A Longitudinal Analysis of the Health of Children in One- and Two-parent Households

Hilke Brockmann


Families produce health, but changes in familial structures are made responsible for many negative health trends in the population. How does the health of younger children today in Germany develop when comparing whether the parents live together or separately? Using data from the German Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP), we are able to show that children in traditional marriages are not generally healthier than children in other families. For example, the risk of suffering health problems is even significantly lower among younger children of single mothers than among children of married mothers. Nevertheless, children of married mothers have a higher birth weight and a body mass index (BMI) that deviates less from the norm than the children of divorced mothers. Longitudinally and under control of possible selection effects, there is evidence that the separation and divorce of parents has negative health effects. Especially the mental and intellectual state of the mother, rather than her material situation, can help to cushion the negative consequences of a separation on her children’s health. Against the background of increasing numbers of single mothers, we will discuss the current and future significance of these findings.


Health; Children; Single Mothers; Longitudinal Analysis; Germany

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DOI (PDF): http://dx.doi.org/10.4232/10.CPoS-2013-16en

DOI (- PDF (Deutsch)): http://dx.doi.org/10.4232/10.CPoS-2013-16de

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