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Policy Reform and Employment after Divorce: Evidence from the German Maintenance Reform of 2008

Michaela Kreyenfeld, Hertie School

Michaela Kreyenfeld, Hertie School

In 2008, the German government enacted a maintenance reform (Unterhaltsrechtsreform). Prior to this reform, ex-spousal maintenance was based on the principle of ex-spousal solidarity. The reform refuted that principle and replaced by the principle of ‘self-reliance’ of the ex-partners. In practise, it meant that ex-spousal support was restricted to few and exceptional cases. In this paper, we use register data from the German Public Pension Fund to examine the effect of the Maintenance Reform on the employment and earnings of divorced women and men in Germany. The data ‘VSKT’ (Versichertenkontenstichprobe) of the years 2019 to 2021 provide monthly earnings and employment histories of roughly 4.5 million persons. As a method, we adopt a triple diff-and-diff approach (Olden & Møen 2021) to model the causal effect of the reform.

Michaela Kreyenfeld (Hertie School Berlin)

Daniel Brüggmann (German Pension Fund)

Sarah Schmauk (Humboldt University Berlin)

Katharina Wrohlich (DIW)

Michaela Kreyenfeld is Professor of Sociology at the Hertie School. Her research focuses on family sociology and family demography. Until 2016, she led the research group Life Course, Social Policy and the Family at the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research in Rostock. She is a member of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities, curatorium board member at the German Institute for Population Research (BiB) and advisory board member at the Institute for Employment Research (IAB) as well as member of the Scientific Advisory Board for Family Issues of the German Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth. She is currently heading the 10th commission of the German Family Report.

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