Who leaves the marital residence after divorce? The role played by homogamy and heterogamy

Lindsay Theunis, Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Jan Van Bavel, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven

In case of a union dissolution, at least one partner has to leave the joint family home. We investigated the role of heterogamy between two former partners on the likelihood that the female partner has left the marital residence around separation between 1981 and 2010. Many demographic and social trends point to changes in spouses’ relative positions with respect to age, education, earnings, labor force participation, preferences for mates, childcare and housework. These trends may also have led to changes in the relative positions of men and women in their likelihood of leaving the joint home. We used data of 2948 divorcees from the “Divorce in Flanders” survey and logistic regression models. Heterogamy was measured by constructing two indicators of relative resources: the age difference and the difference in education between the two former partners. Changes through time were estimated by making a distinction between three separation cohorts: 1981-1990, 1991-2000 and 2001-2010. Preliminary results suggest a changed relationship between the types of heterogamy and whether the woman versus the man moved out around separation. During all three separation cohorts, the woman moved out particularly frequently if the man was considerably older than she was. Only in the most recent cohort, women had a lower likelihood to move out if they were older than their husbands. Educational differences were significant in the two first cohorts, but in a different way: women with lower educational resources than their husbands had a slightly lower chance to move out in the oldest cohort, while in the next cohort the woman had a higher chance to move out if the man was more educated than equally educated. In the next version of the paper, we will apply diagonal reference models that have been shown to yield better estimates of the effects of homogamy and heterogamy.

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Presented in Session 49: Separation and divorce