Winning the lottery sends women rushing off to the divorce court. Men stay married
We think of our family as outside the financial world. But two new studies show that it’s not so simple.
The state provides support for those of us lucky/silly enough to have children. Child benefit starts from birth, but you’ll probably know this phase called pregnancy exists.
What would happen if support started before birth? Good things for the health of the infant, concludes new research using hospital data to investigate the effects of the UK’s health in pregnancy grant. This was a universal £190 cash transfer to pregnant mothers in the UK from 2009 to 2011, when austerity finished it off. The author finds that it boosted birth weight (by 8g-12g) and reduced premature births (by 9%-11%), especially for young mothers in deprived areas, with reduced stress the most likely driver. Money matters.
Wealth makes men more appealing to current/prospective partners, but gives women an early out from unsatisfactory ones
Never mind the impact of such small grants; what do large increases in wealth – such as winning the lottery – mean for families? A study of Swedish lottery players finds that it really matters whether the winner is a man or a woman.
If men have a big win, they are much more likely to get or stay married. A million kronor win (about £80,000) increases the chance of unmarried men getting hitched in the next five years by 30% and reduces the chance of married ones getting divorced by 40%. And, married or not, they have more kids.
The impact on women is very different: a lottery win on that scale almost doubles their short-run probability of divorce. There’s no long-run impact so wealth is accelerating divorces, not causing more. So wealth makes men more appealing to current/prospective partners, but gives women an early out from unsatisfactory ones. Who says romance is dead?
• Torsten Bell is chief executive of the Resolution Foundation. Read more at resolutionfoundation.org