Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Intact Marriages Make for Higher GPAs

Here's another case from the "Common Sense Can Be Quantified" file, courtesy of the World Congress of Families:

Parents searching for a way to give their children help in the classroom need look no further than the ring finger on their left hand. A new study published in the Journal of Divorce & Remarriage clearly shows that parents who make their marriage successful are conferring a remarkable academic benefit on their children - especially their daughters.

By using data for 265 seniors enrolled in a Colorado Springs public high school, researcher Barry D. Ham assesses "the impact of divorce in relation to students' academic achievement." And the pattern is clear: "Adolescents from intact homes perform better academically and maintain better school attendance than do those students from either single-parent or remarried homes."

Ham calculates that in comparison with peers from other family structures, students from intact families earn GPAs that average more than 17% higher. He further calculates a distinctively low rate of absenteeism among students from intact families, who missed 78% fewer class periods than peers from non-intact households.

While some have supposed that parental remarriage will erase the harmful effects of parental divorce, Ham finds that, overall, "children in remarried households performed no better than children in either single-mother or single-father families." More careful parsing of the data, however, indicates that "when a stepparent is brought into the home, the males somehow benefit" while females do not. Highlighting it as "one of the most significant findings of this study," Ham points to statistics indicating that "females were more negatively impacted" than males by living in a stepfamily created after parental divorce.

Ham does not comment on the irony of his findings in a social world in which feminists generally regard parental divorce and the stepfamilies it produces with indifference. He does see in his findings strong indications that, compared to peers in non-traditional homes, "those students residing with their two biological parents appear to be given an increased chance to excel educationally."

(Source: Barry D. Ham, "The Effects of Divorce and Remarriage on the Academic Achievement of High School Seniors," Journal of Divorce & Remarriage 42.1/2 (2004)