Volume 36 - Article 58 | Pages 1785–1812  

The socioeconomic determinants of repartnering after divorce or separation in Belgium

By Inge Pasteels, Dimitri Mortelmans

This article is part of the Special Collection 21 "Separation, Divorce, Repartnering, and Remarriage around the World"


Background: The increasing prevalence of higher-order unions is one of the major changes in family life in recent decades.

Objective: By using register data, we aim to give a unique view on how income components – amount and composition – influence the likelihood of repartnering after divorce or separation in Belgium.

Methods: We analyse a sample of 46,648 broken marriages and 67,053 separated cohabitations from the Belgian Data Warehouse Labour Market and Social Protection database, using discrete-time event history models.

Results: The chances of men repartnering increase in higher income quintiles. Women in lower income quintiles are more likely to repartner, while women in higher income groups are less likely to repartner. These patterns have been found to hold regardless of the type of previous union. Furthermore, divorcees are more likely to repartner than former cohabiters are. The type of previous relationship hardly influences the impact of the amount of income on repartnering dynamics. As for the composition of income, being divorced decreases repartnering chances in cases of irregular labour, irrespective of gender. Women who are in work are more likely to repartner if they are divorced rather than separated, while men receiving unemployment benefits and integration income are more likely to repartner if they are divorced.

Conclusions: Repartnering is evolving to a two-tier system, with a wide discrepancy between lowest and highest income groups. Type of previous relationship makes hardly any difference to the impact of the amount of income on repartnering dynamics, but partially drives the impact of the composition of income.

Contribution: This analysis greatly improves on previous measurements of earnings and brings in a life course perspective.

Author's Affiliation

Other articles by the same author/authors in Demographic Research

Social policies, separation, and second birth spacing in Western Europe
Volume 37 - Article 37

Endogamy and relationship dissolution: Does unmarried cohabitation matter?
Volume 47 - Article 17

The intermediate effect of geographic proximity on intergenerational support: A comparison of France and Bulgaria
Volume 27 - Article 17

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