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Happily Ever after? Cohabitation, Marriage, Divorce, and Happiness in Germany

Anke C. Zimmermann and Richard A. Easterlin
Population and Development Review
Vol. 32, No. 3 (Sep., 2006), pp. 511-528
Published by: Population Council
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20058902
Page Count: 18
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Happily Ever after? Cohabitation, Marriage, Divorce, and Happiness in Germany
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Abstract

In Germany the life satisfaction of those in first marriages traces the following average course. Starting from a baseline of life satisfaction in noncohabiting years one or more years prior to marriage, those who cohabit before marriage have an increase in life satisfaction significantly above the baseline. In the year of marriage and that immediately following, the life satisfaction of those in first marriages, prior cohabitors and noncohabitors combined, increases to a value even further above the baseline, significantly higher than for premarital cohabitors. Thereafter, life satisfaction of those in first marriages drops, but remains significantly above the baseline, at the same level as for premarital cohabitors. Those whose first marriage ends in separation or divorce have a life satisfaction trajectory not significantly different from that described above, but separation or divorce reduces this group's life satisfaction trajectory not significantly different from that described above, but separation or divorce reduces this group's life satisfaction to the original baseline value. The roots of prospective dissolution apparently lie in this group's distinctive socioeconomic and personality traits. These findings are from an analysis of 21 waves of the German Socio-Economic Panel.

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