Non-Western immigrants are quickly catching up with their Danish counterparts when it comes to divorce rates.
A new report from the Danish National Centre for Social Research (SFI) shows that while one of every three ethnic Danish children has experienced a divorce, one fourth of non-Western immigrants have had their parents split up.
Among immigrants with a Somali background, three of every four children have parents who are no longer together.
SFI’s report, which is the first of its kind, found that among immigrants, divorces are “nearly always” the initiative of the mother and often come after long periods of conflict. That, researchers said, is because divorce is more taboo among non-Western societies and there is less of a “divorce culture”.
“Parental cooperation after a divorce is often difficult. Shared custody arrangements are for the most part nonexistent. The children’s contact with their father is often precarious and immigrant children generally have less contact with their father than Danish children,” SFI stated in a press release.
SFI said that their research, which combined quantitative data with 80 in-depth interviews with children and parents, found that there was often violence involved when immigrant couples divorce.
"The husband hits the wife and in some cases also the children. We see examples of some fathers with substance abuse problems and there are also examples of mental illness," Mai Heide Ottosen, one of the report’s authors, told DR.
Because children so often end up with single mothers who are not active in the Danish job market, SFI found that 52 percent of immigrant children whose parents are divorced live under OECD’s poverty line.
“This is very striking when you consider that just 14 percent of Danish children in the same situation live under the poverty line,” Ottosen said.