Theoretical models of the divorce process suggest that marital breakup is more painful in the presence of children, yet little is known about the role of children as a moderator of divorce effects on adult well-being. The present study addresses this gap of research based on long-term panel data from Germany (SOEP). Following individuals over several years before and after divorce, we investigated whether the impact of divorce on multiple measures of well-being varied by the presence and age of children before marital breakup. Three central findings emerged from the analysis. First, declines in well-being were sharper in the presence of children, and these moderator effects were larger if children were younger. Second, domain-specific measures of well-being revealed gender differences in the moderating role of children. Mothers sustained deeper drops in economic well-being than did fathers; the reverse was true for family well-being. Third, most of these disproportionate declines in the well-being of divorced parents did not persist in the long term given that higher rates of adaptation leveled out the gaps compared with childless divorcees.
- panel data
- random-effects models