Divorce and the wellbeing of older Australians

Divorce and the wellbeing of older Australians


This article examines the effects of divorce in later life on wellbeing.

Using data from the Household Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey, it provides estimates on the impact of divorce on social connection and participation, perceived social support, satisfaction with life, and mental and physical health, for older Australians aged 55-74 years.

The study finds that divorce has a long-lasting, negative impact on wellbeing that persists into later life for both men and women. However, the negative effects of divorce on wellbeing are largely confined to those who do not re-partner.   

Matthew Gray and Lixia Qu are at the Australian Institute of Family Studies, David de Vaus is at the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Science, University of Queensland, and David Stanton is at the Crawford School of Economics and Government, Australian National University.

Earlier versions of this paper were presented at the Australian Social Policy Conference, University of New South Wales, Sydney, 11-13 July 2007, and the 10th Australian Institute of Family Studies Conference, Families Through Life, Melbourne, 9-11 July 2008.

We are grateful to Sara Arber, Alan Hayes and Boyd Hunter for comments on an earlier version of this paper. The views expressed in this paper are those of the authors and may not reflect those of the Australian Government or the Australian Institute of Family Studies.

Research Paper
30 pp.