Labor and love: Wives' employment and divorce risk in its socio-political context

L P Cooke, Jani Erola, Marie Evertsson, Michael Gahler, Juho Harkonen, Belinda Hewitt, Marika Jalovaara, Man-Yee Kan, Torkild Hovde Lyngstad, Letizia Mencarini, Jean-Francois Mignot, Dimitri Mortelmans, Anne-Rigt Poortman, Christian Schmitt, Heike Trappe

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Abstract

We theorize how social policy affects marital stability vis-à-vis macro and micro effects of wives' employment on divorce risk in 11 Western countries. Correlations among 1990s aggregate data on marriage, divorce, and wives' employment rates, along with attitudinal and social policy information, seem to support specialization hypotheses that divorce rates are higher where more wives are employed and where policies support that employment. This is an ecological fallacy, however, because of the nature of the changes in specific countries. At the micro level, we harmonize national longitudinal data on the most recent cohort of wives marrying for the first time and find that the stabilizing effects of a gendered division of labor have ebbed. In the United States with its lack of policy support, a wife's employment still significantly increases the risk of divorce. A wife's employment has no significant effect on divorce risk in Australia, Flanders, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. In Finland, Norway, and Sweden, wives' employment predicts a significantly lower risk of divorce when compared with wives who are out of the labor force. The results indicate that greater policy support for equality reduces and may even reverse the relative divorce risk associated with a wife's employment.
LanguageEnglish
Pages482-509
Number of pages28
JournalSocial Politics
Volume20
Issue number4
Early online date15 Sep 2013
DOIs
StatusPublished - Dec 2013

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divorce
love
wife
labor
aggregate data
division of labor
micro level
labor force
specialization
Finland
Norway
equality
Sweden
Italy
Netherlands
marriage
France
lack

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Cooke, L. P., Erola, J., Evertsson, M., Gahler, M., Harkonen, J., Hewitt, B., ... Trappe, H. (2013). Labor and love: Wives' employment and divorce risk in its socio-political context. DOI: 10.1093/sp/jxt016

Labor and love : Wives' employment and divorce risk in its socio-political context. / Cooke, L P; Erola, Jani; Evertsson, Marie; Gahler, Michael; Harkonen, Juho; Hewitt, Belinda; Jalovaara, Marika; Kan, Man-Yee; Lyngstad, Torkild Hovde; Mencarini, Letizia; Mignot, Jean-Francois; Mortelmans, Dimitri; Poortman, Anne-Rigt; Schmitt, Christian; Trappe, Heike.

In: Social Politics, Vol. 20, No. 4, 12.2013, p. 482-509.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Cooke, LP, Erola, J, Evertsson, M, Gahler, M, Harkonen, J, Hewitt, B, Jalovaara, M, Kan, M-Y, Lyngstad, TH, Mencarini, L, Mignot, J-F, Mortelmans, D, Poortman, A-R, Schmitt, C & Trappe, H 2013, 'Labor and love: Wives' employment and divorce risk in its socio-political context' Social Politics, vol. 20, no. 4, pp. 482-509. DOI: 10.1093/sp/jxt016
Cooke LP, Erola J, Evertsson M, Gahler M, Harkonen J, Hewitt B et al. Labor and love: Wives' employment and divorce risk in its socio-political context. Social Politics. 2013 Dec;20(4):482-509. Available from, DOI: 10.1093/sp/jxt016
Cooke, L P ; Erola, Jani ; Evertsson, Marie ; Gahler, Michael ; Harkonen, Juho ; Hewitt, Belinda ; Jalovaara, Marika ; Kan, Man-Yee ; Lyngstad, Torkild Hovde ; Mencarini, Letizia ; Mignot, Jean-Francois ; Mortelmans, Dimitri ; Poortman, Anne-Rigt ; Schmitt, Christian ; Trappe, Heike. / Labor and love : Wives' employment and divorce risk in its socio-political context. In: Social Politics. 2013 ; Vol. 20, No. 4. pp. 482-509
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