Break-ups leave women poorer but men more fragile

Sydney Morning Herald July 7, 2010

Women are much poorer than men after a marriage breakdown but men are much lonelier, sadder and their mental health is more fragile immediately after, a big study reveals. Within fours years, however, men have begun to recover emotionally and their finances have improved considerably. But women’s incomes have gone backwards. ”Both men and women take a hit after separation,” said David de Vaus, professor of sociology at the University of Queensland, and co-author of the study. ”Women are much poorer financially, men are much poorer socially.”

The study, to be presented at the 2010 Australian Institute of Family Studies conference today, shows men’s income in real terms is almost 20 per cent higher four years after separation, in line with general income trends, but on average women’s is 2 per cent less. And separated men are more likely than women to call themselves ”poor” and to complain of financial hardship, despite an average income of almost $42,000 compared with $36,000 for separated women. ”It doesn’t mean men are just moaning. We don’t know what their expenses are,” Professor de Vaus said. The study, by researchers at the University of Queensland, the Australian Institute of Family Studies and the Australian National University, has followed an initial sample of 14,000 people, to track their circumstances from two years before a break-up to four years after. It shows that many of the negative effects often attributed to separation were already present before the break-up.