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The Iona Blog

Even in Sweden family breakdown hurts children

Author: David Quinn
Date: 11th December 2012

Divorce, cohabitation and births out of wedlock are all very high in Sweden.  How do Swedish children fare as a result? Not bad at all, reckons renowned economist, Paul Krugman, and he credits Sweden’s lavish welfare state with this.

But he’s wrong, as this blog by sociologist Brad Wilcox shows. In fact, by the time they are 15, Swedish children born out of wedlock are 75pc more likely to see their parents split up than children born within wedlock. (About 55pc of all Swedish children are born outside marriage according to the OECD, mostly to cohabiting couples).

The effects of this are predictable. As Wilcox says: “A Lancet study of the entire population of Swedish children found that children in single-parent families were about twice as likely to suffer from serious psychological problems, drug use, alcohol abuse, and attempted suicide, compared to children in two-parent families.”

No doubt the welfare state does ameliorate some of the effects of family breakdown, but wouldn’t it be better to try and minimise family breakdown to begin with instead of pretending it doesn’t matter, which is what Paul Krugman appears to do?

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