Family size and economic wellbeing following divorce: The United States in comparative perspective

Authors: Zachary Van Winkle, Thomas Leopold,
Issue: 2021
Themes: ,
Link to Publication (External Site)

Do childless women fare better economically than mothers after divorce? And do mothers with many children suffer more than those with small families?

This study compares data from a panel study in the United States with similar information from studies in Germany, the United Kingdom and Australia.

It finds that the household incomes of women with many children decreases more immediately following divorce compared to childless women, however contrary to expectations, mothers with many children are more likely to recover economically in the following six years. Despite some country differences, these trends were found in all four study countries

The authors suggest that women with many children may recover by increasing their number of work hours once in dire straits.

Childless women are more likely to remarry than those with children, but there is no evidence this contributes to the differences in income between these and larger families.

The study concludes that for women the driving factor in financial recovery after divorce is not remarriage but prior engagement in the labour market. Having children may actually contribute to economic recovery following divorce, and this unexpected finding warrants further investigation, the paper says.

See also a blog post about the study!