Coping with Family Break-ups : Converging Consequences for Fathers and Mothers?

Kessler, Dorian (2 September 2016). Coping with Family Break-ups : Converging Consequences for Fathers and Mothers? (Unpublished). In: Tagung der European Population Conference. Mainz / Deutschland. 31.08.2016 - 01.09.2016.

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This article examines two sources of heterogeneity in gender differentials in parents' adjustment to family break-up: variations in the domain of well-being and historical changes. With respect to domain-specificity of the consequences of divorce, it examines whether mothers, with reference to their specialization in child care and housework, suffer greater losses than fathers in adjusted household incomes as a result of divorce, as well as whether or not these inequalities are also found in subjective evaluations of financial well-being. On the downside, it analyzes whether fathers, with reference to the disadvantages they face in separation dynamics, in terms of marriage health premiums and access to social resources after divorce, suffer drops in immaterial well-being similar to those experienced by mothers. The results from bivariate regressions on five pooled, cross-sectional datasets of divorcees and entropy-balanced counterfactual samples of continuously married individuals suggest that there is no well-being domain in which divorced fathers fare relatively worse than divorced mothers. Surprisingly, fathers and mothers subjective reports of facing more diffculties than their counterfactuals in making ends meet are quite similar. Yet, unlike fathers, mothers for whom the divorce happened long ago are significantly less happy and worse off in terms of subjective health and permanent health problems than their counterfactuals. Comparisons of parents who separated before the divorce law revision in Switzerland (2000) with those that separated after it, however, suggest that the long-term disadvantages of divorced mothers might be a reflection of the higher divorce effects among older cohorts, or the higher selectivity of divorcees among these cohorts. Mothers who divorced after the turn of the millennium report levels of happiness that are more similar to the levels reported by their counterfactuals than mothers who separated before the turn of the millennium. This decrease in the happiness disadvantage of divorce for mothers cannot be explained by more equal child care arrangements or improvements in relative incomes: immediately following a divorce, mothers are still three times more likely than fathers to have children below 16 years cohabiting and they still show about 30% lower adjusted household incomes than they would if they had remained married. Judges shift towards "clean breaks" are likely to have contributed to this stability.

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Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)


School of Health Professions
School of Health Professions > G Continuing Education


Kessler, Dorian




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Date Deposited:

25 Feb 2020 15:44

Last Modified:

25 Feb 2020 15:44




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