Women's Labour Market Position and Divorce in the Netherlands

Evaluating Economic Interpretations of the Work Effect

A. Poortman, M. Kalmijn

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Abstract

This article studies the influence of women's work on the risk of divorce, using data from the Netherlands. We examine economic interpretations of the work effect by disentangling the work effect into five dimensions: (a) the intensity of wife's work, (b) the status of wife's work, (c) potential labour market success, (d) relative labour market success (vis-à-vis the husband), and (e) the division of domestic labour. Our results show that working women have a 22 percent higher risk of divorce than women who do not work. Subsequently, our findings show that there is no significant positive effect of women's economic occupational status on divorce and that labour market opportunities have little effect. In addition, the influence of the division of labour on divorce is not relative, not symmetric, and does not extend to domestic labour. All in all, these findings do not support economic interpretations of the work effect and confirm earlier criticisms arguing that sociological interpretations are more promising. This line of reasoning is further confirmed by our finding that the effect of wife's work on divorce has decreased over time while the effect of husband's contribution to domestic work on divorce has increased.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)175-202
JournalEuropean Journal of Population
Volume18
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2002

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market position
divorce
Netherlands
labor market
interpretation
economics
wife
husband
labor
occupational status
working woman
women's work
division of labor
criticism

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title = "Women's Labour Market Position and Divorce in the Netherlands: Evaluating Economic Interpretations of the Work Effect",
abstract = "This article studies the influence of women's work on the risk of divorce, using data from the Netherlands. We examine economic interpretations of the work effect by disentangling the work effect into five dimensions: (a) the intensity of wife's work, (b) the status of wife's work, (c) potential labour market success, (d) relative labour market success (vis-{\`a}-vis the husband), and (e) the division of domestic labour. Our results show that working women have a 22 percent higher risk of divorce than women who do not work. Subsequently, our findings show that there is no significant positive effect of women's economic occupational status on divorce and that labour market opportunities have little effect. In addition, the influence of the division of labour on divorce is not relative, not symmetric, and does not extend to domestic labour. All in all, these findings do not support economic interpretations of the work effect and confirm earlier criticisms arguing that sociological interpretations are more promising. This line of reasoning is further confirmed by our finding that the effect of wife's work on divorce has decreased over time while the effect of husband's contribution to domestic work on divorce has increased.",
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year = "2002",
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Women's Labour Market Position and Divorce in the Netherlands : Evaluating Economic Interpretations of the Work Effect. / Poortman, A.; Kalmijn, M.

In: European Journal of Population, Vol. 18, No. 2, 2002, p. 175-202.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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