Academics at the London School Of Economics have just published their findings on child outcomes after parental separation, using a sample of about 19,000 children born between 2000-2002. The researchers analysed data from the UK Millennium Cohort Study, (MCS) to look at how children experienced contact with resident and non resident parents after separation.
However, despite claiming that the survey is the largest of its kind, the conclusions are rather short sighted and typical of previous analyses which only scratch the surface on child outcomes and mistake separation as a cause, rather than a symptom of family breakdown and its effect on children.
As with research before it, the survey claims that marriage is an important factor in child wellbeing, rather than stopping to consider whether this would actually resonate with children in this context, or whether there are underlying factors which in reality have little to do with the marriage contract and much more to do with social, educational and economic factors. We have written extensively on why marriage is not a blanket solution to child welfare issues, and you can read our thoughts on the blog, including this piece of research which shows quite clearly why family breakdown is far more complex than the debate around marriage.
There are other gaping holes in the survey’s analysis, which the researchers are good enough to admit. We haven’t had a chance to read the entire report yet, but what we have read so far reads very much like reports written previously by others. We’re just not sure why the government felt the need to fund yet more of the same.
As with so much research in this area, the focus tends to be on the symptoms of much broader phenomena like social, economic and educational disadvantage rather than the root causes of these things. Please do tell us if we’re wrong about this latest piece of research, it’s Friday and we’re a little sleep deprived.
You can check out the Ministry of Justice’s announcement of the report and the report itself, here.