Women's Labour Market Position and Divorce in the Netherlands: Evaluating Economic Interpretations of the Work Effect

A. Poortman, M. Kalmijn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

57 Citations (Scopus)
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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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