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Do Divorcing Couples Become Happier By Breaking Up?

40 Pages Posted: 18 Oct 2005  

Jonathan Gardner

Towers Watson

Andrew J. Oswald

University of Warwick - Department of Economics; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Date Written: September 2005

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.

Keywords: divorce, happiness, GHQ, life satisfaction, longitudinal data

JEL Classification: J12, I3

Suggested Citation

Gardner, Jonathan and Oswald, Andrew J., Do Divorcing Couples Become Happier By Breaking Up? (September 2005). IZA Discussion Paper No. 1788. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=826447

Jonathan Gardner (Contact Author)

Towers Watson ( email )

Watson House
London Road
Reigate, Surrey RH2 9PQ
United Kingdom
+44 1737 274097 (Phone)

Andrew J. Oswald

University of Warwick - Department of Economics ( email )

Coventry CV4 7AL
United Kingdom
523510 (Phone)

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Schaumburg-Lippe-Str. 7 / 9
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

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