Do Childhood Experiences of Parental Separation Lead to Homelessness?

Melbourne Institute Working Paper No. 14/17

Date: 2017


Julie Moschion
Jan C. van Ours


This paper investigates the effect of parental separation on homelessness. Previous studies have only been able to provide descriptive evidence that parental separations relate to reductions in housing quality and stability. Using a unique dataset of disadvantaged Australians who provide retrospective information on parental separation and housing circumstances, we estimate bivariate duration models to examine transitions into homelessness following parental separation. Controlling for observed as well as unobserved family and individual characteristics, and exploiting the timing of events, we show that parental separation significantly increases the likelihood of experiencing homelessness in subsequent years if the separation occurred before the respondent was 12 years old. Parental separation occurring from the age of 12 only increases boys’ likelihood of becoming homeless, but not girls’.

Download Paper