Exploring the Cohabitation Gap in Relationship Dissolution and Health and Wellbeing: A Longitudinal Analysis of Transitions from Cohabitation and Marriage in Switzerland and Australia

Belinda Hewitt, Marieke Voorpostel, Gavin Turrell

Research output: A Conference proceeding or a Chapter in BookChapterpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
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Abstract

With the increase of unmarried cohabitation a growing body of research examines health differences between married and cohabiting people, but few studies investigate what happens when relationships end. While cohabitation offers some similar health advantages to marriage, typically cohabitants have been together less time, are less likely to have children or to have shared finances. Therefore separating from cohabitation may be less difficult than marriage. We compare Switzerland and Australia because the Swiss are more conservative in relationship formation and dissolution, where Swiss cohabitations are more serious and marriages more stable than in Australia. There are also important policy differences, where long-term cohabitants have the same legal entitlements as married couples in Australia, but not in Switzerland. To examine country differences in the health consequences of separation for cohabitants and married people we use 16 waves of the Swiss Household Panel (SHP) and 14 Waves of the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia study (HILDA). Our sample includes respondents aged between 18 and 65 in cohabiting or marital relationships. Our dependent variables measure negative feelings, positive feelings and self-rated health. Using fixed effects regression models with lagged marital status measures we find that overall separation from marriage produces greater negative feelings and fewer positive feelings than separation from cohabitation, although differences vary by gender. Relationship dissolution had a stronger association with feelings compared to self-rated health. No clear country differences were found.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLife Course Research and Social Policies
EditorsRobin Tillmann, Marieke Voorpostel, Peter Farago
Place of PublicationSwitzerland
PublisherSpringer
Chapter3
Pages31-46
Number of pages16
Edition1
ISBN (Electronic)9783319895574
ISBN (Print)9783030078034
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameLife Course Research and Social Policies
Volume9
ISSN (Print)2211-7776
ISSN (Electronic)2211-7784

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