Women are more financially affected by a separation

A separation, whether it is a divorce, a breakup of a PACS or a breakup of a common-law relationship, always has financial consequences for the ex-spouses, with a 14% drop in the median standard of living in the year of the separation (Insee).

Women are much more strongly affected than men, especially following a divorce (-28%). The loss of standard of living within the couple is less unequal when a common-law relationship breaks down.
In the year of separation, one out of five former spouses lives below the poverty line and up to one out of three divorced women. Among those who are in poverty following their separation, two-thirds have just fallen into poverty, but a majority remain in poverty one year later.

In the Grand Est region, as in the rest of France, nearly one in eight common-law couples separated on average each year between 2011 and 2016. These breakups are four times more frequent than for civil union couples. They are very rare among married couples (1%).

Regardless of the type of union, a separation has many consequences for the individuals who undergo it, especially financially. It results in the end of economies of scale linked to the household, with cohabitation and the pooling of certain expenses. In the Grand Est, the median standard of living of spouses, after private transfers and social benefits and after taxes, decreases by 14% after a separation.

Women’s standard of living declines three times as much

After a separation, both spouses lose out financially, but women always lose out much more than men, regardless of the type of union. They suffer a 20% drop in their standard of living in the year of separation, almost three times as much as men (7%).
It is after a divorce (whether officially pronounced or in the process of being granted) that the gap between women and men is at its widest: 25 points. Divorced women experience the sharpest drop in standard of living of all types of separation (-28%), while it is lowest for men (-4%). The pooling of resources is stronger in married couples. Moreover, marriages break up at a later age (at 45, 10 years older than PACS breakups) and 80 percent of them involve couples with children (compared to 60 percent for PACS and common-law breakups). However, for older generations, the gender gaps in terms of activity, employment and salary are greater, especially since women may have reduced or interrupted their professional activity following the arrival of a child.

Audrey Eichwald, Virginie Pic (Insee)