The study published last month in the journal Economica shows that women are significantly more content than usual for up to five years following the end of their marriages, even more so than their own average or baseline level of happiness throughout their lives.
Researchers surveyed 10,000 people in the UK between the ages of 16 and 60, questioning them regularly over two decades. Participants were asked to rate their own happiness before and after major milestones in their lives. Although men also felt slightly happier after receiving the decree absolute, the increase was much less marked.
Professor Yannis Georgellis, Director of the Centre for Research in Employment, Skills and Society (CRESS) at Kingston Business School, said:
"In the study we took into account the fact that divorce can sometimes have a negative financial impact on women, but despite that it still makes them much happier than men. One possible explanation could be that women who enter into an unhappy marriage feel much more liberated after divorce than their male counterparts."
The study examined a psychological process called 'adaptation' – the way in which individuals adjust to new circumstances. It also revealed that people can very quickly bounce back from other life events normally perceived as traumatic, such as being widowed, although not, it seems, unemployment.
This story appeared in Family Law Week.