AbstractIn France, as in many other countries, union dissolution has become increasingly common over the last few decades. While the economic consequences of separation have generated an abundant international literature, research on this question is still rare in France, doubtless for lack of suitable data. This article analyses the labour force participation of men and women in the two years following the first separation. To obtain a sample of sufficient size, two retrospective surveys based on similar occupational history calendars (“Jeunes et Carrières” 1997 and “Familles et Employeurs” 2005) were grouped together. Propensity score matching techniques were used to compare separated men and women with those still in a union. For separated men, the risk of unemployment increases after separation. Inactive women who separate return to the labour force more frequently than other inactive women. Their return to work is strongly influenced by the age of their children at the time of separation, much more markedly so than for women who remain in a union. The effects of separation are stronger when access to the labour market is difficult; the sharpest rise in unemployment after separation is observed in the period just after 1990. Last, high-educated men and women (who have completed upper secondary education or higher) are better protected against the effects of separation than the low-educated.