The Economic Consequences of Divorce in Germany: What Has Changed since the Turn of the Millennium?

Miriam Bröckel, Hans-Jürgen Andreß


Our analysis of data from almost 30 waves of the German Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP) shows that the economic consequences of divorce are still more negative for women than for men despite increased female labour force participation and, correspondingly, increased numbers of dual earner households. After reviewing recent shifts in the institutional fabric and the social structure of the conservative German welfare state with respect to families and marriage, the empirical analysis investigates the economic consequences of a sample of 844 men and 1,006 women in five dimensions: child custody, support payments, housing, employment, and economic well-being. Change is measured by comparing data from before and after the turn of the millennium.

Overall, the analyses show that the economic consequences of divorce are still more negative for women than for men after the turn of the millennium, although female labour participation has increased and the public child care system was expanded. Nevertheless, some signs of change become visible indicating that the gains and losses of marital disruption are not unilaterally distributed among the genders. That men may also depend on incomes of their spouses can be seen for the increasing number of dual earner households. Moreover, after the turn of the millennium, economic dependence on public transfers increased not only for women but also for men.


Divorce consequences; Household income; Gender inequalities; SOEP

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