This paper examines how a reduction in the financial resources available to lone parents affects repartnering. We exploit an Australian natural experiment that reduced the financial resources available to a subset of separating parents. Using biweekly administrative data capturing separations occurring among low and middle income couples, we show that the policy reform significantly increased the speed of repartnering for affected separating mothers. The 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.

  • Fisher, H and Low, H, (2018). Divorce early or divorce late? The long-term financial consequences. Australian Journal of Family Law, 31(2)

We use data from the UK Household Longitudinal Study (Understanding Society) to examine income, housing and wealth for those who divorce in England and Wales. We consider variation between different generations and examine how circumstances at divorce, the year of divorce, and re-partnering behaviour post-divorce affect our results. We find that women in all cohorts have lower household income if divorced, but that men’s household income does not suffer. Men and women in all cohorts have lower housing wealth if they have divorced. Remarriage is an important pathway for recovery.

  • Fisher, H, The impact of child support receipt on the household income and labour supply of lone mothers. Economic Record, 93(301)

    One objective of child support schemes is to reduce the reliance of lone parents on government transfers. I estimate the effect of receiving child support on the household income and labour market activity of payee lone mothers in Australia. I use variation in the amount of child support received driven by the employment status of the paying parent, and find that receiving any child support reduces government transfers, increases labour force participation, and increases household income in excess of the amount of child support received. Increasing the amount of child support received does not decrease the employment rate or hours worked of lone mothers

  • Fisher, H. and Low, H. (2016). Recovery From Divorce: Comparing High and Low Income Couples. International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family, 30(3):338-371

This paper shows that divorce in the UK has different consequences for the rich and for the poor and for men and for women. The opportunity to mitigate these consequences and to recover also differs across groups. Women in the richest households before divorce suffer the largest and most persistent falls in their standard of living compared to those from poorest households, who recover quickly. Men increase their standard of living on divorce: low income men recover the most and recover fastest, driven by increases in labour force participation and by returning to live with their extended families. Across the rich and the poor, there is no evidence that women are more likely to remain in the marital home than men after divorce, with the majority of men and women moving house on divorce.

  • Fisher, H. and Low, H. (2015). Financial implications of relationship breakdown: does marriage matter? Review of Economics of the Household 13(4)

    In raw data in the UK, the income loss on separation for women who were cohabiting is less than the loss for those who were married. Cohabitants lose less even after controlling for observable characteristics including age and the number of children. This difference is not explained by differences in access to benefits or labor supply responses after separation. In contrast, there is no difference in the change in household income experienced by cohabiting and married men who do better on average than both groups of women. We show that the difference for women arises because of differences in the use of family support networks: cohabitants’ standard of living falls by less because they are more likely to live with other adults, particularly their family, following separation, even after controlling for age and children. Divorced women do not return to living with their extended families. The greater legal protection offered by marriage does not appear to translate into economic protection.

  • Fisher, H. (2013). The effect of marriage tax penalties and subsidies on marital status. Fiscal Studies 34(3)

    The United States personal income tax system treats married and unmarried couples differently, creating both penalties and subsidies for marriage. This paper examines the effect of these penalties and subsidies on the choice of marital status. Endogeneity between the marriage penalty a couple faces and its marital status is dealt with using a simulated instrument capturing variation in the tax code over time and between states. I find that a $1,000 change in the financial incentive for marriage has a 1.7 percentage point (1.9 per cent) effect on the probability of marriage. This effect is symmetric for subsidies and penalties and, whilst modest, is four times larger than previously estimated. Lower education groups and couples without children are the most responsive.

  • Fisher, H. (2012). Divorce Property Division Laws and the Decision to Marry or Cohabit, Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, 28 (4):734-753

    This article presents a model of the choice between marriage and cohabitation that is used to analyze the implications of changing from a title-based division of property on divorce to an equal sharing regime. There are two opposing effects. In line with popular expectations, the change to equal sharing discourages some wealthy individuals from marrying since they risk losing half of their assets in the event of divorce. Offsetting this, equal sharing property division induces efficient investment in marriage, increasing the value of marriage relative to cohabitation for some couples. Overall, the impact on the number of marriages relative to cohabitations is ambiguous, although there will be more marriages where it is more difficult to invest, and where couples are more similar to each other.

  • Fisher, H., Low, H. (2009). Who wins, who loses and who recovers from divorce? In Jo Miles and Rebecca Probert (Eds.), Sharing Lives, Dividing Assets: An Inter-disciplinary Study. Hart Publishing.


Working Papers