By Margarita Nahapetyan
After divorce it is women who turn out to be the biggest financial losers, but it takes their husbands much longer to recover emotionally, found the joint research led by the Australian Federal Government's Institute of Family Studies.
The study by the AIFS, ANU and University of Queensland compared the incomes of married couples with divorced men and women between 2001 and 2010. The data was collected from the Household, Income and Labor Dynamics in Australia Study which involved about 8,000 families and 14,000 individuals. It was revealed that while women's household income significantly dropped, particularly in the first year following the divorce, men's income continued to increase.
And while divorcees who did not have children were able to rebound from a break-up in about six years and return to their pre-divorce financial state through re-partnering, increased participation in labor force and government benefits, the picture for divorced women with dependent children appeared to be much more complicated, as for these women it was not that easy to combine family responsibilities with paid job.
The authors, who also analyzed the emotional well being of divorced people, came to the conclusion that men experienced greater feelings of isolation and loneliness when compared to women, even up to six years after a breakup. It was found that two years following the divorce more than 30 per cent of men reported feeling very lonely and isolated, compared with 25 per cent of females. And after six years, 26 per cent of divorced men still reported feelings of loneliness and isolation versus 20 per cent of divorced women.
The report also found that divorced men and women had fewer household assets when compared to their married and never-married peers. And while the assets of the divorced people are worth about $200,000 less than non-divorced individuals, even before the split, the gap almost doubles six years after divorce to about $390,000.
Dr. Lixia Qu, senior research fellow at the AIFS, said that for divorcees who did not re-partner, a lack of financial resources was associated with a greater dependence on government benefits. Divorce has a huge impact on both males and females whose assets continue to fall behind married households and this has a big impact on retirement income for all divorced people, regardless of gender, who never marry again, making them more reliant on government support to get by, Dr. Qu said.
According to Australian Bureau of Statistics figures, a total of 50,200 divorces happened in the country in 2010. Households with married, never-divorced couples with the ages between 55 and 64 years have annual incomes of $50,000 to $55,000, when compared to about $40,000 of those headed by divorced single men and women of the same age.