The Effect of Changing Financial Incentives on Repartnering

Melbourne Institute Working Paper No. 29/16

Date: 2016

Author(s):

Hayley Fisher
Anna Zhu

Abstract

This paper examines how a reduction in the financial resources available to lone parents affects repartnering. We exploit an Australian natural experiment that reduced the financial resources available to a subset of separating parents. Using bi-weekly administrative data capturing separations occurring among low and middle income couples, we show that the policy reform significantly increased the repartnering hazard for affected separating mothers, especially those with low labour force attachment. Reconciliation with the woman’s prior partner drives this result. Complementary analysis of an annual panel survey demonstrates that repartnering impacts are also present over the five years post-separation and that the impact on repartnering hazards is increasing in the extent of financial loss and the urgency of the impact. Together, these results demonstrate that one way that lone mothers respond to a reduction in financial resources available at the time of relationship breakdown is by repartnering more quickly.