Trajectories of Life Satisfaction Before, Upon, and After Divorce: Evidence From a New Matching Approach

The new DIAL working paper by Scheppingen and Leopold Trajectories of Life Satisfaction Before, Upon, and After Divorce: Evidence from a New Matching Approach analyses how divorce influences life satisfaction. The results indicate that life satisfaction declines among divorcees, and that some declines last at least five years after the divorce.

Van Scheppingen and Leopold analyse trajectories of life satisfaction with data from the longitudinal German Socio-Economic Panel Study. They match individuals who experience a divorce with individuals as similar to them as possible but who do not experience a divorce. By comparing these two groups, the authors can take into account other marriage-related factors that influence life satisfaction as well as the general decline in life satisfaction that tends to take place after marriage.

The results show that life satisfaction indeed declines more among divorcees than individuals who remain married. This relative decline starts years before divorce and is most pronounced at the time of the divorce. Life satisfaction rises again after divorce but remains at lower levels as compared to married individuals. The change in life satisfaction is not the same among all divorcees, indicating that some show full recovery, as others remain at lower levels of life satisfaction until years after the divorce.

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Divorce and the Growth of Poverty Gaps Over the Life Course: A Risk and Vulnerability Approach

A new paper by Hogendoorn, Leopold and Bol, Divorce and the Growth of Poverty Gaps Over the Life Course: A Risk and Vulnerability Approach, published in the DIAL working paper series, examines educational gradients in the relationship between divorce and poverty. The authors take a new approach to studying growing poverty gaps between education groups by combining theoretical aspects of gradients in the probability of divorce (risk) and gradients in how divorce influences poverty (vulnerability). Previous studies have demonstrated that the lower educated have both a higher risk of divorce, and have suggested they also have a higher probability to suffer from the negative consequences of divorce. However, by studying risk and vulnerability separately, previous research has not fully assessed their joint contributions to poverty.

Hogendoorn and colleagues study the educational gradients in divorce and poverty using longitudinal administrative data from the Netherlands. They confirm that the lower educated indeed have the highest risk of divorce and the highest probability to fall into poverty after divorce. These gradients also strengthen over the life course, which means that the contributions of divorce to poverty among lower educated men and women increase as they age. However, the contributions of divorce to poverty differ by gender and parenthood, for example mothers seem to be particularly likely to fall into poverty after divorce than any other group.

One of the main contributions of the paper is the two-fold approach of risk and vulnerability of divorce and how they have contributed to the increased poverty gaps between education groups. Hogendoorn and colleagues illustrate that especially among mothers, both risk and vulnerability of divorce contribute significantly to the educational gradient in poverty. The phenomenon is less substantial among childless individuals and absent among fathers.

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Measuring Unfair Inequality: Reconciling Equality of Opportunity and Freedom from Poverty

Measuring Unfair Inequality: Reconciling Equality of Opportunity and Freedom from Poverty, a new working paper by Hufe, Kanbur and Peichl, takes up the issue of multifaceted inequality by putting forth a new measure of unfair inequality. The authors argue that inequality is not bad per se, but that one should differentiate between different aspects of inequality in order to make normative statements about the fairness of a given income distribution.

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