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Wife or Frau, Women Still Do Worse: A Comparison of Men and Women in the United States and Germany after Union Dissolutions in the 1990s and 2000s


  • Richard Hauser

    (Goethe-University of Frankfurt am Main)

  • Richard V. Burkhauser

    (Cornell University, University of Melbourne, University of Texas)

  • Kenneth A. Couch

    (University of Connecticut)

  • Gulgun Bayaz-Ozturk

    (CUNY City Tech)


Using harmonized PSID and SOEP panel data from the CNEF we track changes in economic wellbeing before and after union separations in the U.S. and Germany since 1993 for both men and women for both the short- and the long-term. We find, based on our measures of pre- and post-government equivalent income, that women in both Germany and the U.S. experience much larger declines in their economic wellbeing than men following divorce. Yet the magnitude of these losses is remarkably similar in the short-term. Government taxes and transfers reduce the size of these losses in both countries as well as the gap between the outcomes of men and women following divorce especially in Germany. We are also able to show that in the long-term, the economic wellbeing of these divorced men and women improves in both countries but disproportionately so for women. Despite these gains, we still find that in both the short- and long-term whether “wife or frau”, women who divorced in the 1990s and 2000s still do worse than their partners. JEL Classification: J12, J11 Key words: Divorce, Germany, U.S., wellbeing, PSID, SOEP

Suggested Citation

  • Richard Hauser & Richard V. Burkhauser & Kenneth A. Couch & Gulgun Bayaz-Ozturk, 2016. "Wife or Frau, Women Still Do Worse: A Comparison of Men and Women in the United States and Germany after Union Dissolutions in the 1990s and 2000s," Working papers 2016-39, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:uct:uconnp:2016-39

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Kenneth A. Couch & Thomas A. Dunn, 1997. "Intergenerational Correlations in Labor Market Status: A Comparison of the United States and Germany," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 32(1), pages 210-232.
    2. Richard V. Burkhauser & John G. Poupore, 1997. "A Cross-National Comparison Of Permanent Inequality In The United States And Germany," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 79(1), pages 10-17, February.
    3. Burkhauser, Richard V & Smeeding, Timothy M & Merz, Joachim, 1996. "Relative Inequality and Poverty in Germany and the United States Using Alternative Equivalence Scales," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 42(4), pages 381-400, December.
    4. Couch, Kenneth A. & Lillard, Dean R., 1998. "Sample selection rules and the intergenerational correlation of earnings," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 5(3), pages 313-329, September.
    5. Gulgun Bayaz-Ozturk & Tao Chen & Kenneth A. Couch, 2014. "Intragenerational mobility and the ratio of permanent to total inequality," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 46(36), pages 4399-4408, December.
    6. Laura Tach & Alicia Eads, 2015. "Trends in the Economic Consequences of Marital and Cohabitation Dissolution in the United States," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 52(2), pages 401-432, April.
    7. Kenneth Couch & Christopher Tamborini & Gayle Reznik, 2015. "The Long-Term Health Implications of Marital Disruption: Divorce, Work Limits, and Social Security Disability Benefits Among Men," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 52(5), pages 1487-1512, October.
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    JEL classification:

    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure
    • J11 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Demographic Trends, Macroeconomic Effects, and Forecasts

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