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Journal Article

Falling out of love and down the housing ladder: a longitudinal analysis of marital separation and home ownership


Publication date

Aug 2014


We analyse the interdependence between marital separation and home ownership. Pastresearch showed that separations reduce the likelihood of owning a home. We add to this literature byallowing partners to be aware of the risk of separation in our empirical analysis. We analyse (i)residential moves to owned and rented dwellings and (ii) the selection processes between ownershipand separation. We also assess differences by gender and for two different institutional contexts,Britain and Germany. Drawing on results from two longitudinal surveys (British Household Panel Surveyand Socio-Economic Panel Study, 1991–2008), we find that separation is negatively associated withownership. Part of this effect is explained by lower prior investments in ownership by those whoseparate, but the effect is partly a direct consequence of separation. Although ownership rates increaseagain after repartnering, these rates do not reach the levels of the first marriage. Although the effectof separation has a universal character, substantial differences in housing markets allow ex-partners inBritain to maintain relatively high levels of ownership after a separation, while ownership rates falldramatically in Germany.

Published in

European Sociological Review

Volume and page numbers

30 , 512 -524





Family Formation And Dissolution and Housing Market



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