The effect of life histories on repartnering in Australia and the United Kingdom

Publication type

Conference Paper


BHPS-2009 Conference: the 2009 British Household Panel Survey Research Conference, 9-11 July 2009, Colchester, UK


Publication date

June 1, 2009


In recent years as a result of a rise in divorce rates coupled with an increased prevalence
of cohabitation, a growing percentage of the population has or will experience the
breakdown of a relationship and also the possibility of forming another new
relationship. It has therefore become increasingly important to understand how people
repartner after the dissolution of a previous union. Although a large body of literature
already exists on the study of remarriage, there is far less research which has
investigated repartnering in the form of a cohabiting union. Further, much of this work
focuses on those who have been previously married, and less is known about patterns of
repartnering after the breakdown of a cohabiting relationship (Wu and Schimmele,
2005). This paper seeks to address the issue of repartnering, both in terms of forming
cohabiting and marital unions, from a comparative perspective. Using a longitudinal
approach we compare the nature of repartnering behaviour in Australia and the United
Kingdom, countries with similar policy and legislative frameworks. We find that within
five years of becoming single, an estimated 49 per cent of the United Kingdom sample
and 43 per cent of the Australian sample had entered a new relationship, most
commonly cohabitation. Multivariate analysis reveals important similarities as well as
differences in the demographic and socio-demographic determinants of forming a new
union in the two countries.






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