Children as family commuters: the geographical distance between two parental homes after union dissolution

Lars Dommermuth, Statistics Norway

This study focuses on the increasing proportion of children living in separated households. The analysis is based on administrative register data from Norway, covering the entire resident population. From the population register, mothers with at least one child aged less than 18 years by the end of 2012 were selected. The sample was then reduced to couples that once lived together with their child or their children, but were separated in 2012. This means that the child was registered either in the maternal or in the paternal household by the end of 2012. The geographical distance between the separated parental homes is the dependent variable of the analysis. It is based on the latitude and longitude of each address, which allows exact measures of distances between family members. In contrast to earlier research in the field, the here proposed approach is not bounded to defined geographical units as municipalities or regions and uses longitudinal instead of cross-sectional data. From the child’s perspective, the distance between the two parental homes is a time-space restriction, which affects the amount of time that can be spent with each parent. Besides describing how far the parents live from each other, possible factors that might shape the magnitude of the distance are investigated. This includes the sex, number and the age of the children involved, the type of the dissolved union, the age and educational background of the parents, the time since the break-up, and possible new family events after the dissolution (re-partnering, birth of new children). In addition, the distance between the two households might depend on if one of the parents still lives in the originally shared dwelling or house, if children are registered with the mother or the father and if the children moved between the two parental households after the separation.

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Presented in Session 49: Separation and divorce