Applying a Multiple Equilibrium Framework to Divorce Risks in Western Germany, Britain and the U.S.

Gosta Esping-Andersen, Universitat Pompeu Fabra
Daniela Bellani, Universitat Pompeu Fabra
Diederik Boertien, Universitat Pompeu Fabra

Divorce research often produces ambiguous findings regarding the influence of women’s new economic role. To exemplify, wives' income tends to affect divorce positively and, yet, we see that the educational gradient is being reversed. How does one reconcile such findings? In this paper we apply an alternative approach to the issue, one derived from multiple equilibrium models. We predict that couple instability should be greatest where strong normative signals are absent – i.e. in 'unstable equilibria'. Vice versa, divorce risks should decline when (and if) gender-egalitarian norms of couple life gain ground. One important upshot is that research on family dynamics should be more sensitive to non-linearities. Using the GSOEP, the BHPS and PSID waves 1986-2009; we apply discrete time event history analysis to couples and relate partnership durations to couple specialization. We focus particularly on inequity effects related to the division of domestic and market work.

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Presented in Session 215: Divorce: Causes and Consequences