Business finance major Felix Tam, 27, still remembers the time of his parents divorce. Although he was only 8 years old, he remembers the adjustments made to his life, such as living with only one parent, and the effects that it had on his mom who raised him. Luckily, Tam said, his dad still supported him and his brother and paid for his private high school.

Currently, about one in every four children lives in a divorced household, according to Naoko Akashi, assistant professor of economics. "Divorce is becoming more common," Akashi said.

According to Valerie O’Kent, lecturer in the Departments of Child and Adolescent Development, Secondary Education and Women’s Studies, divorce is so common that the divorce rate in the United States has reached a little over 50 percent. Although there are a variety of reasons why divorce occur, one of the most common reasons are economics, O’Kent said.

According to Akashi, divorce is less costly today than it was years ago. Today, women earn more money "and are not locked into marriage. They can raise kids independently," Akashi said. There is also no more social stigma about getting divorced, as there was in the past. "Women are not as dependent on their husbands as before. When you are dependant on the husband, you can’t get divorced," Akashi said.

Although today’s women earn more, making it easier for them to raise children on their own, "it is generally easier for a man to divorce," O’Kent said. "Data reveal that while a woman’s financial situation may be reduced as much as 40 percent following a divorce, making her and her children’s recovery from this reduction quite difficult, a man is more likely to recover his economic level and do so sooner than will the divorced woman."

One of the causes for the difficulty of a woman’s recovery is child support. "A serious number of divorced fathers fail to meet this obligation, thereby putting another strain on women and children," O’Kent said. Generally, mothers have custody of the children, and if a father fails to meet child support, the mother will have to work more to support her child, Akashi said. According to Akashi, it is all about how much money the custody parent has. "If the mother does not have enough money, the achievement level of the child will be lower due to many factors, such as time spent with the child since she will have to work longer hours."

In her current study on divorce and economics, Akashi found that the lower the income, the lower points scored by a child on the Peabody Individual Achievement Test, a mathematics and reading comprehension test. The study revealed that an average 5- to 10-year-old white male from a family that has an average income of $23,000 scored 56.69 points on the test. When his parents divorced, the income decreased to $17,000 on average and his test score decreased to 43.07 points. When the parent remarried, and the incomes combined again to the average $23,000, his points increased to 52.56. The study also revealed that after the remarriage, the higher the income, the lower the child scored on the test. The same trend resulted in a study done on girls, yet on average they did better by five points in each category.

"The mother’s bargaining power goes down because the wage ratio is in favor of the step parent, who might not care about his non-biological children," Akashi said. Yet O’Kent said children’s behavior in a family with a stepparent depends on "individual circumstances."

SOURCE: Daily Titan