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«Impact of Divorce: Literature Review»

Recently, the occurrence and consequences associated with divorce and marriage stability have attracted the attention of diverse quarters such as government organizations, policy makers, religious institutions, educators, and scholars among others. The increase in the divorce rates underpins the rationale for investigating the impacts of divorce. There is no doubt that healthy marriages contribute to good physical and mental health of both children and couples. This paper reviews five academic articles and presents a summary and a reflection of each. Divorce affects former spouses and children alike, and the following literature review shows that the impact of divorce can be long lasting on children and detrimental to the health of ex-spouses; thus, there is a need to adopt policies to help fortify marriages.

Article 1

Ahrons (2007) designed a study that had the main objective of investigating the long-term impacts of divorce on family ties. In particular, Ahrons sought to determine the impacts that co-parental relationship has on children twenty years after the divorce. The author also embarked on determining the impact of parental remarrying on children’s sense of family. The study was motivated by the fact that there are longitudinal studies focusing on the long-term implications of divorce using samples containing children, fathers and mothers. Ahrons did not develop any hypothesis for the research.

A longitudinal design was adopted for the study. Data was collected from the Binuclear Family Study, which is a longitudinal research that has been trailing divorced family members since 1979. In the Binuclear Family Study, the sample comprised of 98 pairs of ex-spouses having at least one minor. The participants in the Binuclear Family Study were chosen randomly from public divorce records held at Dane County, Wisconsin. Data was collected at intervals of 1, 3 and 5 years after the conclusion of the legal divorce. For Ahrons’ study, data was collected at Time 4, 20 years later, with the adult children (89 men and 84 women) traced through sibling contacts, online telephone directories, and computer web search. Some parents were also interviewed. The author collected data using semi-structured interviews.

The results of the study affirmed the impact of co-parental cooperation on the binuclear family two decades following the divorce through having a strong impact on relationships quality. Children who had cooperative parents had better relationships with their siblings, stepparents, grandparents, and their parents. Over the two decades, children whose one or both parents remarried indicated that the remarriage of the father was more stressful when compared to mother’s remarriage. A notable finding is that, when children’s relationships with their parents worsened following the divorce, their relationship with stepsiblings, stepparents and parents worsened and they became distant. Ahrons uses this finding to conclude that divorce has long-term implications.

Ahrons’ study offers novel insights into the largely unexplored area of divorce impacts – its long-term implications. The use of the longitudinal design is appropriate given the study objectives. The limitation of the study is that the adult children were interviewed only on one occasion, 20 years after the divorce; therefore, events that might have occurred in the course of their life stages are not accounted for in the study. In addition, the sample was predominantly White, which poses concerns regarding the generalization of the study in terms of other ethnicities.

Article 2

Bronselaer, De Koker, & Van Peer (2008) performed a meta-analysis that had the main aim of investigating how divorce affects the health status of ex-spouses. In particular, Bronselaer and colleagues focused on the physical and psychosocial health impacts on ex-partners associated with divorce. The meta-analysis involved gathering data from extensive literature obtained from numerous databases including Flemish university libraries and Web of Science. The information search was conducted using keywords like “mortality”, “health”, “wellbeing”, psychological wellbeing”, “adults”, “marital disruption”, and “divorce” among others. The selection of literature was primarily Anglo-Saxon.

The findings of the study indicated that divorce has diverse psychological and physical health impacts on ex-spouses. Specifically, Bronselaer and colleagues found out that divorce is linked to negative aspects of psychological wellbeing including psychological distress and depression. Nevertheless, divorce has also ben linked to positive impacts on psychological wellbeing including self-appreciation, increased levels of happiness, and enhanced life satisfaction. The results also showed that divorce affects various indicators of physical health such as mortality, blood pressure, inflammation markers, lipid profile, body mass index, and body weight. The authors reported that, generally, divorcees tend to have poor physical and psychological health when compared to those who have not undergone divorce or are married. Specifically, they found that divorces are more prone to depression, distress, and hostility. Another impact of divorce documented in the study was substance abuse. Moreover, the meta- analysis reported that divorcees tend to suffer from chronic conditions, health complaints, disabilities, and perceived poor health when compared to married persons. The overall conclusion inferred by Bronselaer and colleagues is that, averagely, divorce has a negative impact on the physical and psychological wellbeing of ex-spouses as well as their health behaviors.

The meta-analysis is comprehensive and offers a crucial insight regarding the health (physical and psychological) impact associated with divorce on ex-spouses. From the meta-analysis, adequate conclusions can be drawn. Moreover, the authors attempted to explain the reasons why divorce has a negative impact on physical and psychological wellbeing. The only limitation of the meta-analysis is that the selection was limited to Anglo-Saxon literature, which limits the generalization of the findings beyond Anglo-Saxon settings.

Article 3

Burt, Barnes, McGue, & Iacono (2008) designed a study to investigate the relationship between divorce and delinquent behavior among adolescents. The study was motivated by the fact that although a robust association exists between parental divorce and delinquent behavior among adolescents, the etiology of this relationship is unclear. Therefore, Burt and colleagues sought to elucidate the origin of the link between juvenile delinquency and parental divorce. In other words, the study aimed to clarify whether problems with behavior witnessed in divorcees’ children could be attributed to the same pathology in their parents or whether the problem behavior is environmental.

Bronselaer and colleague used what they described as a “novel” design that involved the timing of the divorce among a sample comprising of 610 biological and adoptive families. The authors hypothesized that, if genes that are similar to both the parent and the child influence the association between delinquency and divorce, then non-adoptive youth would show higher levels of delinquent behavior in divorced families even when the divorce occurred before their birth. In contrast, if the relationship is environmental, in the future the children will be prone to higher levels of delinquency in result of being exposed to divorce, and that adoption status would not affect this relationship. Participants were drawn from the Sibling Interaction and Behavior Study (SIBS), which is a study of biological and adoptive siblings including their parents. The measures used in the study included adolescent delinquency, measured using the DSM-IV Conduct Disorder symptom count and the Delinquent Behavior Index; and marital history of parents, measured using the parental life events questionnaire. All these instrumentals have been proven valid and reliable.

The results of the study affirmed that delinquency among children of divorced parents is environmental and not pathological, which means that delinquent behavior can be attributed to the fact that they were exposed to divorce. The conclusion inferred from this finding is that parental divorce mediates the association between juvenile delinquency and divorce.

This study is interesting since it rules out the genetic link thought to exist between the behavior problems of divorced parents and their children. Instead, the study establishes that divorce influences delinquency among adolescents of divorced parents. Adequate conclusions can be inferred from the design of the research. The authors also tackled confounding variables by comparing divorced children with adoptive children.

Article 4

Huurre, Junkkari, & Aro (2006) executed a research study with the aim of investigating the long-term psychosocial impacts associated with parental divorce on children. Specifically, the authors sought to ascertain whether parental divorce in childhood results in long-term impacts on adult interpersonal problems, negative life events, social support and networks, and psychological wellbeing.

Huure and colleagues used the longitudinal design that trailed 32--year old adults whose parents divorced before they reached 16 years. Their psychological wellbeing was compared with those whose parents did not divorce. Data for the study was collected from a follow-up survey involving a Finnish age cohort from 16 to 32 years. The measures in the study included psychological wellbeing, measured via the Psychosomatic Symptoms Score; depression, measured by the Beck Depression Inventory; psychological distress, measured by the General Health Questionnaire; socioeconomic status, measured by self-reported occupational type; alcohol use screened using the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test; and social networks, assessed using self-reported number of important people in friends, relatives, and family.

The findings of the study showed that females who experienced divorce had more psychological problems than those from non-divorced families. Moreover, those from divorced backgrounds had more problems with their interpersonal relationships. Males did not report any significant differences in psychological and interpersonal problems. Nevertheless, between both genders, those from divorced backgrounds reported unemployment, risky lifestyles, negative life events, and shorter education. The authors concluded that divorce causes stress among children, which progresses into adulthood, with female children being more vulnerable.

Overall, this research is of high quality. It also underscores the importance of considering the particular needs of children when divorcing to help curb negative outcomes and chain reactions, which are likely to occur as they grow. The design of the study guarantees robust findings. The author addressed internal validity issues by using two groups.

Article 5

Schramm (2006) focused on exploring the economic impacts of divorce for those currently undergoing through the divorce process in the state of Utah. The author also evaluated the economic impact of divorce on the individual, community, state and federal level. The methodology adopted by the Schramm involved gathering known information about the financial consequences of divorce and presenting the secondary findings in the realm. The societal costs presented in the study are mainly economic ones, which include direct expenses in terms of dollars incurred by the federal and state government bodies. The author studied five classifications of financial costs, which include direct personal costs incurred by the divorcing spouses such as productivity losses, relocation and legal costs; costs incurred by the community such as bankruptcy and charities; costs incurred directly by the state linked to the aftermath of the divorce such as insurance plans for children, food stamps, and courts among others; costs incurred by the federal government; and indirect costs to the federal and state governments that are difficult to quantify such as reform institutions and crime.

The findings indicate that the government incurs the bulk of costs associated with divorce in terms of medical costs and welfare assistance. In Utah, the 9735 cases of divorce costs the government about $ 3 million in both indirect and direct costs. When these costs are extrapolated, the cost to the US annually totals $ 33 billion.

The study is crucial since it offers insights regarding the economic costs associated with divorce at the individual and government level. The findings presented in the study only offer an overview of the divorce costs since estimating indirect costs cannot be accurately estimated. The study did not take into account the benefits associated with divorce such as the fee for lawyers. Given the high cost of divorce, the author underscores the importance of implementing policies to strengthen marriages. Schramm also highlights the need for further research on the macroeconomic effects associated with divorce.


In the research, the various impacts of divorce have been highlighted. Studies focusing on the impacts of divorce cover various areas including impacts on divorces, impacts on children, and impacts on society. Moreover, these studies also cover the immediate and long-term costs associated with divorce. It is evident that divorce affects the divorcees, especially through worsening their physical and psychological wellbeing, at least in the short-term. Divorce also affects children in the long-term, especially through worsening their relationships with parents and other members of the binuclear families and results in negative psychosocial impacts. Divorce also contributes to delinquent behavior among adolescents whose parents divorced. Lastly, divorce is costly. Based on these detrimental impacts, there is a need to adopt policies to help strengthen marriages.


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