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This study is the first to examine changes in life satisfaction before, during and after divorce based on a control sample matched to divorcees. Our data came from 33 waves of the German Socio-Economic Panel Study, including 789 divorcees and a control sample of 1,683 married people matched to divorcees in the year of marriage. Our results indicated gradual declines in the years before divorce, a sudden decline in the year of divorce and gradual increases in the years after. The matched control sample of people who remained married throughout the study period showed gradual declines in life satisfaction, suggesting that some but not all of the declines found in divorcees were due to divorce. Divorcees showed larger individual differences in change as compared to non-divorcees. Time-invariant moderators explained a small amount of variance in divorcees’ life satisfaction trajectories.
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