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Time-Dependent Effects of Wives' Employment on Marital Dissolution

Scott J. South
American Sociological Review
Vol. 66, No. 2 (Apr., 2001), pp. 226-245
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2657416
Page Count: 20
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Time-Dependent Effects of Wives' Employment on Marital Dissolution
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Abstract

The specialization and trading model-the dominant theoretical perspective on marital stability-posits a positive effect of wives' economic independence on the risk of divorce. Prior evidence for this association is mixed, however. This analysis explores the possibility that the effect of wives' labor force supply and educational attainment on marital dissolution varies across historical periods and across the marital life course. Event-history analyses of data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics for 3,523 married couples observed between 1969 and 1993 reveal that the impact of wives' employment on marital dissolution has become increasingly positive. Moreover, as marriages age, the positive effect of wives' employment on divorce becomes stronger and the negative impact of wives' education becomes weaker. Possible explanations for these varying effects include the development of institutional supports for unmarried working mothers, the increasing adoption of nontraditional gender-role ideologies, and trends in workplace sex segregation.

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