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Who moves out and who keeps the home? Short-term and medium-term mobility consequences of grey divorce in Belgium

Christine Schnor, UCLouvain
Zuzana Zilincikova, UCLouvain

Research shows that women are more likely to move out after the divorce, but the evidence is largely limited to younger ages. Little is known about short-term and medium-term mobility consequences in the case of a ‘grey divorce’. Focusing on married couples separating at ages 50 to 70, we investigate who is more likely to move from the joint household upon separation and in the years following separation. We address the role of couple characteristics on the likelihood of moving out. Using Belgian register and census data, we study married couples who separated in the year 2002 after at least 15 years of marriage duration and follow them for 3 years after their separation date. In contrast to findings concerning younger ex-couples, our results showed that older women have a relative advantage in keeping the home at separation and maintain the advantage even in the years following the separation. We argue that these findings point to the principle of fairness in the moving out decision among older separating couples. Nevertheless, not all women benefit from this advantage. Most vulnerable are women who are significantly younger than their partners, rent rather than own the home, and whose children already left home.

Keywords: Older adults, Family demography, Internal migration, Census data

See extended abstract.

  Presented in Session 182. Union Dissolution Around the World: Predictors and Outcomes