The political consequences of transitions out of marriage: do women really become more left-wing?

Publication type

Conference Paper


MPSA Annual National Conference, Palmer House Hotel, Hilton, Chicago, IL, Apr 03, 2008


Publication date

June 1, 2008


It is well known that the economic consequences of separation, divorce, and widowhood are strikingly different for men and women. While women on average experience a substantial decrease in incomes and living standards after transitions out of marriage, men often experience only small losses or even moderate gains. Recent work in political economy suggests that this difference in the economic consequences of marital dissolution leads to gendered redistributive and political preferences. After leaving marriage women should become more left-wing and men more right-wing. So far, however, credible causal inferences about the political consequences of marital dissolution do not exist. In this paper, we use data from the British Household Panel Survey in combination with a matching estimator to estimate the effects of transitions out of marriage on policy preferences and vote choice in British General Elections. We show that marital dissolution causes a large decline in turnout, but in contrast to previous research we find that it has no systematic effect on policy preferences and vote choice.






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