Geographical distance between child and parent after a union dissolution in Sweden 1974-2011

This paper analyzes how the distance between children and nonresident parents has changed during the last 40 years in Sweden, and how this is related to changes in child custody policies. We use population register data including exact geographical coordinates for children and their nonresident parents in the year after separation, for 1974-2011. This allows us to track developments for a longer period than that examined in any previous study. Results show a gradual decrease in distances between children and nonresident parents from the 1970s until the early 1990s, after which the trend has stalled at a low level. In 2011, 50 percent of all children lived within 2 kilometers of their nonresident parent, and less than 10 percent lived more than 50 kilometers apart. We find no evidence of direct policy effects, although policies may still have had an indirect effect via their impact on norms. High-income parents have changed their post-divorce residential patterns at a faster pace than low-income parents.