Do separation and divorce affect children’s educational achievement in France ?

Population and Societies

379, May 2002

  • Parental separation impairs academic success of children
  • Family-related education gaps still remain
  • What is to blame: divorce or troubles at home?
  • Weekend births on the wane



Divorce and end-of-union rates have risen sharply over the past thirty years, and a growing number of children have to cope with parental separation: one non-adult child in four among recent birth cohorts (box 1). Education, too, has changed radically over recent decades; it has been “democratized”—become accessible to all—and the period of compulsory education is now substantially longer. The cohort-specific proportions of students who passed the baccalauréat, the upper secondary school diploma (the university matriculation diploma), more than doubled between 1985 and 1995, from 30% to 63% [1]. How much of a disruptive influence does parental separation have on children’s education, and harm their chances of passing exams?

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