Thursday, February 12, 2009

Divorce makes women poorer and men wealthier - Add on

This is a follow up on this post.

I found the following on Glenn Sacks blog where Dr. Ned Holstein made some other points I missed before. Read it all here. In short (and partly copy and pasted):

- In a divorce it is not all about money. How can you put a value on the de facto loss of children suffered by most divorcing husbands?

- The study is old. It was published in 1997 based on data from 1991-1994. At that time, according to the study authors, few divorced husbands made payments to their ex-wives.

- It assumed that non-custodial parents have no child-related expenses of their own, whereas such expenses are actually quite substantial (housing is the main cost of raising children — almost 40% — and it costs as much to house a child for 6 days per month as it does to house the child for 24 days per month).

- Poorer men dropped out of follow-up, leaving the post-divorce sample of men weighted towards those who were wealthier and thus made it look as if almost all men do well financially after divorce.

- Housing was not part of that study as most of the time the husband has to take an apartment while the wife still lives in the house.


It is very clear who does better after divorce — and it is not the husbands. It is also clear who does worse — the children, who in study after study express sorrow that they do not have more time with their fathers.

But there is more Sacks also mentions an older incarnation of the same myth a study by feminist Lenore Weitzman published in her book "The Divorce Revolution":

Weitzman concluded that women's standard of living after divorce dropped by three quarters while men's rose over 40%. The media trumpeted her research--some have called it one of the most widely reported studies in media history--and it led to sharp increases in child support guidelines. However, years later Weitzman was forced to admit that her findings were vastly overstated, due to a huge mathematical error.
The next part about a researcher with the oposite findings is interesting as well:
Sanford Braver, Ph.D., one of the nation's leading experts on the economics of divorce, helped uncover and expose the Weitzman hoax. His research demonstrates that when all relevant factors are taken into account, including the numerous tax advantages custodial parents enjoy, the "men gain/women lose" idea is badly in error. In fact, his new research indicates that the opposite outcome may be more common. To learn more about Braver's research, read a transcript of an interview with him on ABC's 20/20 here.
I read that inteverview and here are the interesting parts:

Braver [...] conducted a study of 400 divorces in one part of Arizona, the biggest federally-funded study ever done on divorced dads. What he found was very different from conventional wisdom. [...] Our results show that men and women come out almost exactly equally.
It goes on...

Another widespread belief is that most divorced fathers selfishly refuse to pay their child support. [...] The census gave us this tape to illustrate how they get their information. Every couple of years the census sends workers out to people’s homes to ask, is child support being paid? [...] Amazingly, the government bases all its data on child support on questions asked of just one of the parents. They’re asking the parent who has custody. [...] And 90 percent of the time that’s the mother. [...] Everything we knew about non-custodial fathers, it turns out we knew from custodial mothers. [...] When Braver in his study asked both parents, he found much higher levels of child support paid, on average a 70 percent compliance rate.
And more

Another myth is that many divorced dads never bother to see their children. The media calls them runaway dads. But Braver says the overwhelming majority of recently divorced dads do see their kids or try to. And when they don’t, he says, there’s often a good reason. [...] We found that a surprising number of fathers were impeded in their efforts. The mother just simply said, ‘No, you can’t see your kid.’ [...] Family court Judge Herbert Glickman says the system is not biased against dads. But the law is clear in just about every state that the obligation to pay child support is unrelated to the right to have visitation with the children. [...] So from census data that’s questionable, from an influential book that was just wrong, we have the image of the terrible dad, which reinforces a system that Braver says drives fathers away. We are depriving children of a second parent. We’re hurting the people who deserve the most help: the children.
Interesting interesting. And so much shorter than my article. Ah well I think finally we can forget about that myth.

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