Psychological Distress of Marital and Cohabitation Breakups
Posted: 9 Dec 2013
Date Written: 2013
Using data from a large survey, the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS), this paper explores the extent to which marital and cohabiting unions differ with respect to the short-term effects of union dissolution on mental health. We compare married individuals who divorced or separated with cohabitors whose first union ended and test the hypothesis that married individuals experience larger negative effects. Results show that initial differences are not statistically significant once the presence of children is controlled for, suggesting that the presence of children is a particularly significant source of increased psychological distress in union dissolutions. However, parenthood does not explain serious psychological distress, which appears to be associated with enduring traits (the personality trait neuroticism).
Keywords: Psychological distress, Mental health, Cohabitation, Marital status, Separation, Personality
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