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Does Married Women's Market Work Affect Marital Stability Adversely? An Intercohort Analysis Using NLS Data


  • Bisakha Sen


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.

Suggested Citation

  • Bisakha Sen, 2002. "Does Married Women's Market Work Affect Marital Stability Adversely? An Intercohort Analysis Using NLS Data," Review of Social Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 60(1), pages 71-92.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:rsocec:v:60:y:2002:i:1:p:71-92
    DOI: 10.1080/00346760110127100

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    Blog mentions

    As found by, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Género, mercado laboral y políticas públicas en España: tres décadas de evolución
      by Virginia Sánchez Marcos in Politikon on 2015-03-05 15:13:18


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    Cited by:

    1. Papps, Kerry L., 2006. "The Effects of Divorce Risk on the Labour Supply of Married Couples," IZA Discussion Papers 2395, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    2. Benson, David & Ziedonis, Rosemarie H., 2010. "Corporate venture capital and the returns to acquiring portfolio companies," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 98(3), pages 478-499, December.


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