In a recent article published in the American Sociological Review, Alexandra Killewald, Harvard University Professor of Sociology, presented the results of her research examining the key contributors that made couples more likely to get divorced in marriages that were formed after 1975. The outcomes provide some insight into the roles gender and employment play in modern-day marriages.
Who is more likely to get divorced?
In every marriage, couples have expectations of the roles each partner will play. While expectations regarding marital roles have changed over the decades, so too have the factors that make a couple more likely to get divorced. While it is known that the factors of money and work contribute to, or detract from, marital stability and happiness, Killewald’s research offers insight into the ways these areas are changing over time.
As part of her research, Killewald analyzed data collected from more than 6,300 heterosexual couples in the United States who had started their first marriage between 1968 and 2013. All couples were between the ages of 18 and 55 at the time of their marriage.
To analyze the data, computer models were developed to predict the risk of divorce based on a variety of factors. The factors making couples more likely to get divorced included financial status, share of housework done by males and females, combined family income, the full- or part-time employment status of each spouse, and the female’s level of economic independence. In addition, the computer models also considered other variables that could impact the stability of a marriage. These additional divorce factors included each spouse’s age, level of education, race, religion, whether or not the couple owned a home, and whether or not the couple had a child or children.
Killewald’s findings showed that for couples married before 1975, the share of housework done by the wife was tied to the risk of divorce. This is explained by the fact that the majority of couples married throughout the 1960s and early 1970s would have held more traditional gender role views regarding the division of labor between spouses, the workforce, and the home. In these cases, the woman’s role as the primary contributor to child-raising and housekeeping was significant in maintaining marital stability.
However, for those couples married after 1975, the husband’s role has become the most significant. According to the research findings, married men who were not able to sustain full-time employment faced an increased risk of divorce compared to married men who successfully worked full time. In this research study, only husbands who were unemployed or underemployed through reasons not of their deliberate choice, were considered. Husbands who were choosing to stay at home to care for children or another family member were not considered more likely to get divorced.
When analyzing the employment status of husbands married after 1975, the risk for divorce was 3.3% for those husbands who were unemployed, compared with 2.5% for those who had full-time employment. These findings show that while many societal expectations regarding the gender roles played by married men and women have changed, the role of male “breadwinner” continues to be a constant in most marriages regardless of when couples first married.
Flexibility Is Key
In looking at the research findings both prior to and post-1975, a trend appears that suggests women have experienced increased flexibility over time when it comes to determining whether to work outside the home or to focus on child-rearing and home responsibilities, without the decision significantly impacting marriage stability. However, for men married both before and after the early 1970s, gender role flexibility does not exist to the same extent it does for women without significantly impacting their marital stability.
To read the full article and outcomes, please click here.
Contact Laura Monty Law
If you or your spouse reside in the Fort Collins or Larimer County region, and are considering filing for divorce in Northern Colorado, do not hesitate to contact Laura Monty Law to explore a variety of divorce options. We provide collaborative divorce representation, divorce mediation services, legal advising for uncontested divorces and contested divorces, and a full array of divorce and family law services to meet your family’s needs. We strongly believe in taking a compassionate approach to family law, and recognize that every situation is unique.