First, five explanations for family structure differences in children's life chances are described. The explanations assume differences in human capital investments, child rearing practices, parental conflict, selection and institutionalisation, respectively. Next, an overview is given of recent Dutch studies in this area. The long-term consequences apply to financial-economic status, the family career or well-being. Insofar family structure differences are found, they pertain to the less advantageous circumstances of children of divorce compared to children from intact families. Early parental loss and the entry into a stepfamily do not appear to have negative consequences in the long run. The differences are primarily apparent in the children's own family careers; children of divorce are more likely to experience the disruption of a partner relationship themselves and appear to be more reluctant to enter into marriage. The differences, though significant, are relatively small. Social class background is a stronger predictor of later life outcomes than is family structure. Recent Dutch research on family structure differences in children's life chances has hardly been guided by the search for explanations. The assessment of family structure differences seems to have been the primary objective. The paucity of longitudinal studies is another characteristic feature of recent Dutch research in this area.

Centrum voor Bevolkings- en Gezinsstudie, Brussel
Department of Sociology

Dykstra, P.A. (2000). Diversiteit in gezinsvormen en levenskansen van kinderen op langere termijn. Centrum voor Bevolkings- en Gezinsstudie, Brussel. Retrieved from