Divorce and the Growth of Poverty Gaps Over the Life Course: A Risk and Vulnerability Approach

Bram Hogendoorn, University of Amsterdam
Thomas Leopold, University of Amsterdam
Thijs Bol , University of Amsterdam

Previous research suggests that divorce drives cumulative inequality between education levels via two pathways. First, there is an educational gradient in the risk of experiencing a divorce. Second, there is an educational gradient in economic vulnerability to a given divorce. To date, these pathways have been studied in isolation, and so it remains unclear whether and how divorce drives inequality. We use longitudinal administrative data from the Netherlands, following all young individuals who entered their first marital union between 2003 and 2005 over a period of 10 years. We find that lower educated individuals are at higher risk of divorce, and more vulnerable to its poverty consequences. A decomposition shows that both pathways contribute substantially to the growth of educational poverty gaps. Finally, we find important differences between men and women, and between individuals with and without children in the pathways via which divorce acts as a driver of cumulative inequality.

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 Presented in Session 218. Family Histories and Economic Outcomes: Comparative European Perspectives