Lemons to Lemonade? Union Dissolution and the Consequences for Employment

Paolo Barbieri, University of Trento
Elisa Brini , University of Trento
Stefani Scherer, University of Trento

There is much research focusing on the economic consequences of divorce at the household level. Empirical evidence tends to show that particularly women suffer significantly from economic losses following separation, whereas economic consequences are found to be less severe among men. Research is less developed about the individual consequences of union dissolution on employment careers. This paper contributes to the understanding of the gendered consequences of union dissolution by a) investigating the consequences of union dissolution on labour supply and career mobility of men and women over their life-course; b) looking at how these consequences vary across social categories exposed to different risks; c) comparing three different institutional contexts, Italy, Germany and the United States; d) analysing how the consequences have been changed over time and in relation to the great recession. The analysis of national longitudinal data shows that the negative economic consequences of union dissolution appear to be due to household composition effects rather than individual-level penalties. Not only penalties due to divorce do not emerge in terms of career mobility, but also some positive effects of divorce emerge in terms of labour market activation and increased working hours for women living in the United States and Germany, respectively. For Italian women, results show that different strategies are adopted to cope with the financial losses related to divorce. We discuss the cross-national heterogeneity of the consequences of divorce on employment on different groups of people in light of the institutional and cultural features of the three considered countries.

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 Presented in Session 37. Gender Perspectives. Session dedicated to the memory of Antonella Pinnelli