Earnings Declines of Men around the Time of Divorce in West Germany

Anke Radenacker , Hertie School, Berlin
Daniel Brüggmann, Hertie School, Berlin
Michaela Kreyenfeld, Hertie School of Governance

This paper examines the earnings trajectories of divorced men in West Germany. It explores earnings changes around the time of divorce, and investigates how health and prior labor market performance affects the post-divorce earnings of men. The data come from the German Statutory Pension Register, which provides monthly employment and earnings histories as of age 14, as well as complete marriage histories for the divorced men we study. The analytical sample of this study contains 6,852 West German men who entered the divorce process between 1992 and 2013. For the time being, our descriptive findings show that overall men’s earnings decreased around the time of divorce. However, the overall earnings level of divorced men has increased across divorce cohorts. Despite the decreases around the time of divorce, men earn on average around 90 per cent of average earnings. Men’s marital earnings explain a large share of their earnings patterns after divorce. Men with low marital earnings even increase their earnings during the divorce process, though on an extremely low level. Furthermore, across all groups of marital earnings, men of the most recent divorce cohort experience lower relative earnings losses than the two preceding divorce cohorts.

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 Presented in Session 106. Consequences of Union Dissolution