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Economic Effects of Partner Loss: Examining vulnerability at the intersection of gender and nativity

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Economic Effects of Partner Loss: Examining vulnerability at the intersection of gender and nativity

By Elena Pupaza, Selina Hofstetter and Ben Wilson

The death of a partner has many consequences, including for the economic lives of those they leave behind. Theories predict that these consequences will not only differ by sex (for women and men in opposite-sex couples, especially those with children) but also by nativity (for immigrants as compared with the native-born), as well as for the intersection between sex and nativity. Here, they test these predictions by estimating the effect of partner death on income and employment. They use register data for the whole population of Sweden and focus on quasirandom partner deaths among opposite-sex couples with children. Their results show that partner death has a negative effect on both income and employment, but more so for men than women. The findings indicate that male immigrants are more negatively affected by partner death than native-born men, especially when the partner who dies is another immigrant. The only subgroup who experience a positive impact are female immigrants who experience the death of an immigrant partner. They discuss these findings, which suggest that work retains a prominent place in the life course of immigrant women after the sudden death of a partner, perhaps due to a lack of support and the necessity of meeting economic constraints.