Thursday, March 10, 2011

"In an eight-decade study, parental divorce in childhood was the strongest predictor of early death in adulthood."

The early death of a parent had no measurable effect on children's life spans or mortality risk, but the long-term health effects of broken families were often devastating. Parental divorce during childhood emerged as the single strongest predictor of early death in adulthood. The grown children of divorced parents died almost five years earlier, on average, than children from intact families. The causes of death ranged from accidents and violence to cancer, heart attack and stroke. Parental break-ups remain, the authors say, among the most traumatic and harmful events for children.
What makes that fascinating is that the study, begun in 1921 and which studied 1,500 people, was actually to try to identify early glimmers of high potential. They certainly don't seem to have had an agenda. It was not as rigorously scientific as we might like these days but I think that the discoveries based on 80 years' worth of observation of trends are worth considering. It's a book worth looking for, based on the review.


  1. I read a book called "The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce" which was a 35-year follow-up on children of divorce. The results wouldn't have surprised that author.

  2. I went and read the entire article. Very interesting. Like you said, it's not rigorous enough. They will have to follow up with another study. I hope that they're wrong about cheerful children. That's the only result that doesn't make sense to me.

  3. It was because they didn't take things seriously enough to set goals, etc.

  4. I can see that. My child that was the happiest baby/toddler is content to let everyone do things for him (he'll even ask his next younger sibling for help on his schoolwork). He has a ready smile, but not a lot of drive. Of the boys, I think he'd make the best parish priest because he'd be able to deal with parishioners, which the others couldn't. But he'd never ever want to be a bishop - too much work. (Not that being a parish priest isn't an absurd amount of work too)