Does re-partnering behavior spread among former spouses?

Authors: Zafer Buyukkececi
Issue: 2020
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This study investigates whether divorcees who re-partner play a role in their former spouse’s decisions to do the same.

The researchers used administrative data from Statistics Netherlands to look at divorcees who remarried or lived with a new partner and the likelihood of their former spouse doing the same soon after and showed this was likely to be the case especially within three years of that marriage.

The same pattern emerged for people who had previously lived together: where one partner went on to live with someone else, the likelihood of their former partner doing the same increased. However, the effect was stronger for marriage than for co-habiting and there was little crossover between the two. The effect was also stronger for women than for men.

The findings indicate that the consequences of divorce are not limited to the life event itself and that former spouses remain important in each other’s life courses even after a divorce. With the increasing number of divorcees and changing family structures, the researchers believe it is important to consider former spouses as active network partners who may influence individual outcomes.