Mothers' mobility after separation: Do grandmothers matter?

Marjolijn Das, Helga A.G. De Valk, E.M. Merz

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Starting from a life course perspective, this study aims to gain more insight into mobility patterns of recently separated mothers, focusing especially on moves to the location of their own mother: the maternal grandmother. Separated mothers, having linked lives with their own mothers, may benefit from their practical and emotional support. Additionally, the grandparents' home can be a (temporary) place to stay shortly after divorce. Data come from the System of social statistical datasets (Statistics Netherlands). This unique dataset combines longitudinal data from a vast number of administrative registers. It covers the complete Dutch population, making it exceptionally well suited for life course and mobility research. We studied mothers with minor children between 1/1/2008 and 31/12/2010. Our study included 579,500 mothers, of whom about 8,800 (1.5%) experienced a separation in 2008. Separated mothers moved to the grandmother's municipality more often than non-separated mothers, which might be partially motivated by the need for childcare. They also coresided with the grandmother more than non-separated movers, mostly because of a vulnerable socio-economic position. Although often temporary, coresidence appears to have a prolonged impact on the mothers' location choice; mothers frequently stayed in the grandmother's municipality after moving out. Finally, our results indicated that some mothers seemed to use the parental home as a stepping stone to cohabit with a new partner.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2010
Pages (from-to)e2010
JournalPopulation, Space and Place
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2017


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