Consequences of divorce: Heterogeneity by duration and gender

This project investigates the consequences of divorce and partnership dissolution, focusing on economic resources, residential mobility, and re-partnering. It aims to address social inequality and inform social policy by comparing these consequences across different population groups. The project focuses on Austria, a conservative country with traditional gender roles in (western) European comparison.

Austria's divorce rate is moderate, declining since its peak in 2007, but cohabiting unions are increasing, as is the phenomenon of grey divorce (i.e. dissolution after age 50 or long-term marriages). This growth makes it timely to explore differences across partnership types and age groups. Austria also legalized same-sex partnerships relatively late (same-sex marriage since 2019) and acceptance of homosexuality tends to be lower than in other (western) European countries.

Existing European research on the consequences of divorce/partnership dissolution for population sub-groups is limited, mainly due to data limitation. The use of large-scale register data in this project allows, for the first time, to study the consequences of divorce and partnership separation in Austria across population sub-groups.

The project anticipates identifying disparities in economic resources and poverty post-dissolution, with women, in particular older women, experiencing higher financial losses due to traditional gender roles still present in the Austrian society. However, same-sex couples and younger age groups may exhibit fewer gender-based economic consequences. Residential mobility after divorce/partnership dissolution considers who moves out and why. Evidence on gender differences in this respect is inconclusive, but custodial parents, often mothers, tend to stay more frequently in the home. Guided by marital search theory, which assumes that partner selection is driven by resource maximization, younger individuals and those with greater resource needs are expected to re-partner more quickly.

In summary, this project contributes to research on consequences of divorce/partnership dissolution by exploring understudied aspects and sub-group heterogeneity, leveraging newly available register data, and providing policy-relevant findings addressing resource inequalities post-dissolution.

 


 

 

Project Team