Working Women More Likely to Divorce?

New research released today indicates that women who work are three times more likely to divorce than women who don’t. And women who work long hours are more likely to divorce than women who work less. Here’s an article about the research from the Independent (UK). The research is due to be published in the European Sociological Review.

The researchers based their findings on a database of more than 2,000 people, including 1,000 divorced women. They examined the number of working hours before and after divorce and questioned the women about whether they anticipated divorce in the future.

So what’s the explanation? Theories abound, but my guess is that it’s a combination of these factors:

  • Working women have the option to divorce because they can support themselves; non-working women don’t have that option.
  • Working women have access to a social support structure at work that non-working women don’t, so they are more likely to have access to counselors, lawyers, and others.
  • Wealthy people divorce less than rich people. Non-working women are more likely to be wealthy than working women and therefore less likely to divorce.
  • Working women may have greater confidence in their ability to make a new start.
  • The culture hasn’t caught up to the new economic reality of working women. Men are sometimes threatened and defensive when their wife makes more money than they do. This may result in greater tension and increase the likelihood of divorce.
  • Men whose wives are capable of supporting themselves may feel more free to initiate divorce.
  • One factor can apparently be ruled out. The researchers say they’ve already corrected for the possibility that women planning to divorce were more likely to go back to work so they could prepare for the split.

    One comment

    1. RJ Doyle, Paris France says:

      Interesting. Your logic seems clever enough but has it been tested. A small sample, too
      . An interesting counterweight to the “must work” brigade, which is the other side of the
      “must stay in the kitchen” of before. The real economic contribution, benefit and cost, must

      must be worked out. Also, your comments box runs into the advertisement…hard to type.

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