New Study Addresses Employment, Gender, and Divorce
By: M. Scott Gordon
What is the relationship among salary, gender, and divorce in the Chicago area? A recent article in the American Sociological Review addresses exactly this question while also paying attention to a number of other related issues. For instance, is there a clear connection between marital stability and economic gains in the marriage? And if there is a link between stable marriages and salaries, does the role of gender also come into play? Let us say that we do recognize a nexus among stable marriages, salary, and gender (and, conversely, among salary, gender, and unstable marriages that end in divorce). Then, finally, have the dynamics remained steady over time, or have recent trends in workplace practices and gender also shifted the way we look at divorce?
These are all significant questions, and in responding to them, the article ultimately suggests that homes in which men in heterosexual marriages earn less and/or do not have full-time jobs tend to be “associated with a higher risk of divorce.”
Theoretical Ideas Behind Divorce
As the article clarifies, we need to accept that “divorce occurs when at least one partner believes she will be better off divorced than remaining married,” and as such “the risk of divorce depends on the gains from marriage.” There are several different theories that have been posited to explain reasons for divorce in the United States, including the following:
Conclusions from the Study
Is one of the perspectives presented above more accurate than another when we look at data? According to the article, the data suggests that the “gendered institution perspective” is the most accurate. And while its accuracy has become less so over time (and as traditional gender roles have shifted), it nonetheless still carries weight. What does this mean in practice? In short, heterosexual marriages are more likely to fail when the husband earns less than the wife, particularly when the husband has a job that is less than full time.
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