Women and Children Last:<sup>1</sup> The Retreat from Commitment

Avner Offer

in The Challenge of Affluence

Published in print November 2007 | ISBN: 9780199216628
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191696015 | DOI:

Series: The Challenge of Affluence

Women and Children Last:1 The Retreat from Commitment

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This chapter examines how greater freedom for adults has been paid for most heavily by children. As the proportion of those married declined, about one adult in seven lost the protection and benefits that marriage might have conferred. Frustrated attachments as an infant made it more difficult to form secure and loving ones as an adult. The greater ease of separation for parents allowed them to reconsider their options periodically and to respond to life-cycle opportunities. But the costs of discretion to leave were also high. For both women and men, divorce was often a disaster. On average, it led to lower standards of living, worse health, more anxiety and depression, and fewer years of life. Since the 1950s, anxiety in children has increased by more than one standard deviation, and suicide has increased threefold among the young.

Keywords: divorce; women; children; separation; suicide

Chapter.  9184 words.  Illustrated.

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