Income and Life Satisfaction After Marital Disruption in Germany


Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaftliche Fakultät, Lehrstuhl für Empirische Sozial- und Wirtschaftsforschung, Universität zu Köln, Herbert-Lewin-Str. 2, 50931 Köln, Germany (


Divorce in Germany and in many other countries is often instigated by the wife, even though marital disruption has much more negative economic consequences for women than for men. Both observations, however, are not necessarily a contradiction. Women may gain something that makes up for the economic loss. On the one hand, using data on income and (general) life satisfaction from the German Socio-Economic Panel Study, this article shows that negative economic changes, as measured by data on household income, are real in the sense that they are reflected in subjective assessments of economic well-being. On the other hand, these changes are relative because other aspects of life improve after marriage dissolution, and this is especially true for women.