Does married women's market work affect marital stability adversely? An intercohort analysis using NLS data

Academic Article


  • Over most of the twentieth century, the U.S. has witnessed considerable increases in divorce rates. Conventional economic literature believes that married women's entry into market work may have contributed to this by decreasing the gains from marriage arising from specialization between spouses. However, since the 1980s, divorce rates have ceased to increase though married women's labor supply continues to rise, suggesting that the relationship has changed across time and birth cohorts. Here I use two cohorts of women, those born between 1944-1954 and those born between 1957-1964, to test whether this is the case. My findings indicate that the detrimental effect of married women's market work on marital stability has indeed decreased substantially across cohorts, and such work may even be beneficial to marital stability among the recent cohort. Therefore, it appears that women's market work can no longer be held culpable for the breaking up of American families.
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    Author List

  • Sen B
  • Start Page

  • 71
  • End Page

  • 92
  • Volume

  • 60
  • Issue

  • 1