Illustrative photo

Economic independence and the risk of divorce. Evidence from Sweden, 1947-2015

Date: 14.03.2023, 13:00
Place: Zoom meeting
Maria Stanfors, Lund University

Maria Stanfors, Lund University

Does economic independence destabilize marriage? We investigated the impact of women’s economic independence in terms of (i) any labor income, (ii) wife’s share of household income, and (iii) wife’s income relative to other women, on divorce risks in Sweden 1947-2015. We used longitudinal data on couples (about 50,000 first marriages) in the SEDD database, exploring unique information on women’s income drawn from tax records over nearly 70 years when married women’s labor force participation increased and Sweden developed as a welfare state. Women’s economic independence in terms of any income predicted divorce until 1990. Until 1990, additional divorce risks were highest among women who were the primary breadwinners (i.e., contributed 66% or more to household income) but after 1990, wives’ income share was not an important predictor of divorce. High-earning women were more likely to divorce than women who earned less until 1990, after which divorce risks converged for high- and medium-earning women. Low-earning women consistently had the lowest divorce risks. In sum, economic independence used to predict divorce, when gender division of labor was traditional, and both married women’s labor force participation and divorce were rare. Results indicate that propositions regarding economic independence in terms of income and divorce must be reconsidered when both are common and gendered expectations of spouses are different than they used to be when social theories of gains to marriage were developed.

Maria’s research interest includes the economic histories of education, female labor force participation, housework, and family formation, as well as the interrelationships between them. She runs parallel projects on past and present gender differentials in labor market outcomes (focusing on wages, careers, and union membership); gender and time allocation; family formation and family dynamics differentials across educational and occupational groups; and the role of assortative mating for income inequality and health. SHe is particularly interested in how unpaid care responsibilities are combined with paid work at different stages of the life course – something that is particularly important to understand in contexts with an aging population.

Share link The url has been copied
LabFam © 2020 | created by Thenewlook