Seminar by Anna Zhu


The effect of welfare reform on repartnering behaviour

Seminario di Anna Zhu, Faculty of Business & Economics, Melbourne Institute

This paper examines how a reduction in the financial resources available to lone parents affects their repartnering behaviour. We exploit a natural experiment generated by the 2006 Welfare-to-Work reforms in Australia that reduced the financial resources available to a subset of separating parents. Using biweekly administrative data capturing all separations occurring among low and middle income couples, we show that the policy reform significantly increased the repartnering hazard for affected separating mothers. This effect was concentrated among low socioeconomic status mothers and those with a low attachment to the labour force, and primarily consisted of a reconciliation with the woman's prior partner. Using an annual panel survey we show that this increased repartnering hazard is present over the five years post-separation, and that the repartnering hazard is increasing in the number of years of payments lost, and decreasing in the number of years of payments that are retained. Together, these results demonstrate that one way that lone mothers respond to a reduction in financial resources available at the time of relationship breakdown is by repartnering more quickly.