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New Study Sheds Light on the Link between Work, Divorce, and Money

A new study recently published in American Sociological Review brought to light some interesting revelations that may be contrary to what most believe when it comes to how spouses’ earnings and the division of labor within a household relate to the risk of divorce, and how this has changed since 1975. While many might think that female economic independence and/or total household income might be predictive of divorce, in fact, this study found that “time use” is what matters; thus, for marriages formed after 1975, a husband’s lack of full-time employment is actually one of the highest contributing risk factors when it comes to divorce, where wives’ full-time employment and household labor were not associated with divorce risk.

In other words, while the expectation that a wife is a homemaker may have eroded significantly since 1975, the expectation that a husband must be a “breadwinner” has not. This revelation—that “how couples split their time between the workplace and home” is what matters (versus money) sheds new light on our perspectives when it comes to the link between work, divorce, and money.

The Study

The study was based on data from more than 6,300 heterosexual couples, 1,684 of whom had divorced or permanently separated. Those couples were then split into those who had married prior to 1975, and those who had married after. The year 1975 was selected because of its significance in dividing a before and after in terms of women’s social and economic liberation.

Noteworthy Findings

Interestingly, in couples married prior to 1975, there was a higher divorce rate associated with traditional gender roles (i.e. if women didn’t perform most of the housework, there appeared to be a higher risk of divorce). However, this was lacking in the later generations (i.e. men were expected to contribute to household labor, even if women still handled most of the housework). In fact, there was some evidence that in households where the housework was split evenly, there was less likelihood of a divorce overall.

Perhaps most surprisingly, regardless of generation, it appeared that in any marriage where the husband did not embrace the stereotypical breadwinner role (i.e. if they worked part-time), there was a higher risk of divorce. And, although not definitive, there was a greater risk of divorce among the older generation couples where women worked full-time jobs, but this faded away with couples married after 1975.

Interestingly, other factors the study found related to divorce risk were:

  • Living in the South;
  • Having at least one partner who did not identify with any religion; and/or
  • Living together before marriage.

These findings ultimately indicate that how we view our social responsibilities (i.e. as wife or husband) may be more important than our paycheck. They also refute the notion that as women obtained more economic freedom, the institution of marriage was sent into a state of disarray.

Family Law Attorney Who Cares

When it comes to handling marital issues, you have many options. It makes sense to discuss these options with an experienced professional who can advise you of your rights with each option you are considering. Contact the office of Sandra Bonfiglio in Fort Lauderdale today—we are here to help.

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