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Do Divorcing Couples Become Happier By Breaking Up?

Author

Listed:
  • Gardner, Jonathan

    () (Watson Wyatt LLP)

  • Oswald, Andrew J.

    () (University of Warwick)

Abstract

Divorce is a leap in the dark. This paper investigates whether people who split up actually become happier. Using the British Household Panel Survey, we are able to observe an individual's level of psychological wellbeing in the years before and after divorce. Our results show that divorcing couples reap psychological gains from the dissolution of their marriages. Men and women benefit equally. The paper also studies the effects of bereavement, of having dependent children, and of remarriage. We measure wellbeing using GHQ and life-satisfaction scores.

Suggested Citation

  • Gardner, Jonathan & Oswald, Andrew J., 2005. "Do Divorcing Couples Become Happier By Breaking Up?," IZA Discussion Papers 1788, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp1788
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Blanchflower, David G. & Oswald, Andrew J., 2004. "Well-being over time in Britain and the USA," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(7-8), pages 1359-1386, July.
    2. Oswald, Andrew J, 1997. "Happiness and Economic Performance," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 107(445), pages 1815-1831, November.
    3. Clark, Andrew E & Oswald, Andrew J, 1994. "Unhappiness and Unemployment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 104(424), pages 648-659, May.
    4. Stutzer, Alois & Frey, Bruno S., 2006. "Does marriage make people happy, or do happy people get married?," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 35(2), pages 326-347, April.
    5. John Ermisch & Marco Francesconi, 2000. "Cohabitation in Great Britain: not for long, but here to stay," Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series A, Royal Statistical Society, vol. 163(2), pages 153-171.
    6. Andrew E. Clark & Ed Diener & Yannis Georgellis & Richard E. Lucas, 2008. "Lags And Leads in Life Satisfaction: a Test of the Baseline Hypothesis," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 118(529), pages 222-243, June.
    7. Gardner, Jonathan & Oswald, Andrew, 2004. "How is mortality affected by money, marriage, and stress?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(6), pages 1181-1207, November.
    8. Michael A. Shields & Stephen Wheatley Price, 2005. "Exploring the economic and social determinants of psychological well-being and perceived social support in England," Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series A, Royal Statistical Society, vol. 168(3), pages 513-537.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    divorce; happiness; GHQ; longitudinal data; life satisfaction;

    JEL classification:

    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure
    • I3 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty

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