Educational Achievement Gap between Single and Two-Parent Household Children: An International Comparison

Patrick Heuveline, Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (CASBS)
Hongxing Yang, University of Chicago
Jeffrey M. Timberlake, University of Cincinnati
Matthew Weinshenker, Fordham University

Research in the U.S. has shown that children growing up in a two-parent household do better that those in single-parent household on a number of outcomes, educational in particular. In this paper, we use a cross-national study of educational achievement to test whether this finding applies to all countries. We find an almost universal, significant difference in favor of children from two-parent households, but the educational gap appears largest in the U.S. These gaps are typically reduced in half when controlling for family characteristics, in particular income which we predict from another set of international surveys. In two-level models where we include national indicators that may affect school performance, we find a number of significant factors, but the effects are typically small compared to household-level effects.

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Presented in Session 85: Family Structure and Child Well-Being