In 1990, 16.8 per 1000 children under 18 years of age were involved in divorce. It is estimated that more than one-half of American children are now likely to experience the dissolution of their parents’ marriage by the time they are 18. One third of children born during the 1980s are predicted to live in a stepfamily before 18. In studying how these children of divorce fare as adults, Glenn and Kramer (1985) analyzed eight years of the NORC General Social Science Surveys and found that on eight indicators of psychological well-being (e.g., happiness, health, and satisfactions with life activities) that female children of divorce scored as adults significantly lower on six measures and males lower on three. Click here for an analysis of the long- term effects of parental divorce on children.
In Lewis Terman’s famous longitudinal study of gifted California children (n=1,521), begun in 1921 with follow-ups every 5 or 10 years, it was found that those whose parents divorced faced a 33 percent greater risk of an earlier death (average age at death=76 years) than those whose parents remained married until the children reached age 21 (average age at death=80). According to Dr. Howard Friedman, who did the analyses, there was no such mortality effect for children whose parents had died (cited in Daniel Goleman. 1995. “75 Years Later, Study Is Still Tracking Geniuses.” New York Times [March 7]).