Once a divorce is finalized, women become much more happy and satisfied with their lives, according to researchers at London’s Kingston University — contradicting a U.S. study some years ago by a conservative think tank.
The study, published in the journal Economica, suggests that women are much more content — for up to five years following their divorce — even more so than their baseline level of happiness throughout their lives.
For the study, researchers surveyed 10,000 people in the UK between the ages of 16 and 60, questioning them regularly for over two decades. Participants were asked to rate their own happiness levels before and after major life events.
While men also felt slightly happier after the divorce was finalized, the increase was much less significant.
“In the study we took into account the fact that divorce can sometimes have a negative financial impact on women, but despite that it still makes them much happier than men,” said Professor Yannis Georgellis, Ph.D., director of the Centre for Research in Employment, Skills and Society (CRESS) at Kingston Business School.
“One possible explanation could be that women who enter into an unhappy marriage feel much more liberated after divorce than their male counterparts.”
The latest findings are contrary to research conducted by the conservative Institute for American Values. In that study, the institute found that unhappily married adults who divorced were no happier than unhappily married adults who remained married.
During the UK study, researchers investigated adaptation, the way a person adjusts to new circumstances. The survey also revealed that people can very quickly bounce back from other life events normally perceived as traumatic, such as being widowed.
One exception, however, was unemployment. It was the one major life event that had a much more permanent negative effect on well-being in both sexes. Men were especially broken down after losing their jobs, with a serious impact on their happiness persisting for up to five years.
“Men are deeply affected by unemployment, especially if they are used to being the breadwinners in their homes,” Georgellis said.
“With both sexes, the old adage ‘time heals’ just doesn’t seem to apply to losing your job. In fact the negative effect of being made unemployed also persists even if the person finds a new job, because being made unemployed has a ‘scarring’ effect.”
Source: Kingston University