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When the first union comes to an end: Is it less distressing if we were cohabiting?

Number: 42
Year: 2011
Author(s): Lara Patrício Tavares, Arnstein Aassve
Keywords: cohabitation,marriage,union dissolution,marital protection,psychological distress,BHPS,GHQ
Using the British Household Panel Survey this paper explores the extent to which marital and cohabiting unions differ with respect to the short term effects of union dissolution on psychological distress. We test the hypothesis that spouses experience larger negative effects but the results show that this difference is not statistically significant once the presence of children is controlled for. Having children is found to be a major source of psychological distress when one is going through union dissolution. However, it does not explain high psychological distress which seems to be associated with intrinsic factors (the personality trait neuroticism) rather than with contextual factors.

Lara Patrício Tavares


Arnstein Aassve

Universita Bocconi, Dondena Centre for Research on Social Dynamics



Keywords: cohabitation, marriage, union dissolution, marital protection, psychological distress, BHPS, GHQ


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