MPIDR Working Paper
Re-partnering and single mothers' mental health and life satisfaction trajectories
MPIDR Working Paper WP-2023-001, 58 pages.
Rostock, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (February 2023)
Single mothers are a particularly disadvantaged group in terms of their mental health and life satisfaction. While it is plausible that re-partnering could compensate for these disadvantages by providing social, emotional, and financial resources, the evidence is inconclusive. Using annual panel data from Germany (1984-2020) and the United Kingdom (1991-2020), this study examines the life satisfaction and mental health trajectories around re-partnering transitions among single mothers. The guiding questions are whether re-partnering has positive (resource model) or negative (crisis model) effects on the outcomes, and whether the effects depend on the national context. Fixed-effects regressions reveal effects among 1,675 single mothers. Results show that life satisfaction is positively affected by re-partnering in both Germany and the UK, mainly driven by income-related factors. The effects on mental health differ more, with an increasing trajectory in Germany and a declining trajectory after the re-partnering transition in the UK. Overall, the findings indicate that re-partnering is beneficial, especially for the life satisfaction of single mothers, and highlight the importance of financial resources and family policies.