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In recent decades, the share of traditional nuclear‐family households has decreased in most Western countries, resulting in an increase in the proportion of children living in other forms of household constellations. How children with an absent parent or vice versa arrange their life and relations is partly a matter of physical distance between them. The aim of the study is to analyse the geographical distance between children and absent parents, that is, parents living in another household. The study is a cross‐sectional study based on register data comprising all children in Sweden in 1990, 1995, 2000 and 2005. Using descriptive statistics and ordinary least squares (OLS) regression analysis, we examine the development and determinants of the distance between children and absent parents. OLS regression is employed in order to clarify how the distance relates to the age of the child, as well as demographic and socio‐economic characteristics of the present and absent parents. The results show that while the share of children living with only one parent has increased over time, the average distance between children and absent parents has decreased. The distance between children and absent parents is strongly related to the sex of the absent parent and the age of the child. Absent mothers tend to live closer to their children compared with absent fathers, and the younger the children are, the shorter the distance to the absent parents. Among other factors that influence the distance are remarriage and having a child with another parent, both of which contribute to increasing distances between children and absent parents.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Geography and Economic History, Umeå University, SE-901 87 Umeå, Sweden,

Publication date: September 1, 2012

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