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Are Career Women Good for Marriage?

  • Zvika Neeman

    ()

    (Department of Economics, Boston University)

  • Andrew F. Newman

    ()

    (Department of Economics, Boston University)

  • Claudia Olivetti

    ()

    (Department of Economics, Boston University)

We study US divorce rates, which despite the continuing rise in female labor force participation (FLFP), have been falling since the mid-1980s, reversing a two-decade trend. A cross section of U.S. states for the year 2000 displays a negative relationship between the divorce rate and FLFP. We present theory and evidence in support of the view that these recent trends are the product of two distinct economic forces: relative to their non-career counterparts, career women display greater selectivity in the search for marriage partners and greater flexibility in sharing the benefits of a marriage with their partners. Greater selectivity implies that career women will be older when they first marry and that their marriages will be of higher average “quality,†possibly making them less prone to breakup. Greater flexibility implies that it is easier for two-earner families to re-adjust the intrahousehold allocation to compensate for changes in outside opportunities, making marriages more resistant to “shocks.†Our evidence shows that both effects may be playing a role in generating the trends the trends.

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Paper provided by Boston University - Department of Economics in its series Boston University - Department of Economics - The Institute for Economic Development Working Papers Series with number dp-167.

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Length: 22 pages
Date of creation: Apr 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:bos:iedwpr:dp-167
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  1. Betsey Stevenson & Justin Wolfers, 2007. "Marriage and Divorce: Changes and their Driving Forces," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(2), pages 27-52, Spring.
  2. Jovanovic, Boyan, 1984. "Matching, Turnover, and Unemployment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 92(1), pages 108-22, February.
  3. Jeremy Greenwood & Nezih Guner, 2004. "Marriage and Divorce since World War II: Analyzing the Role of Technological Progress on the Formation of Households," NBER Working Papers 10772, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Justin Wolfers, 2006. "Did Unilateral Divorce Laws Raise Divorce Rates? A Reconciliation and New Results," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(5), pages 1802-1820, December.
  5. Mincer, Jacob, 1985. "Intercountry Comparisons of Labor Force Trends and of Related Developments: An Overview," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(1), pages S1-32, January.
  6. Spiros Bougheas & Yannis Georgellis, . "The Effect of Divorce Costs on Marriage Formation and Dissolution," Economics and Finance Discussion Papers 97-05, Economics and Finance Section, School of Social Sciences, Brunel University.
  7. Michael, Robert T, 1985. "Consequences of the Rise in Female Labor Force Participation Rates: Questions and Probes," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(1), pages S117-46, January.
  8. Che, Yeon-Koo & Gale, Ian, 1998. "Standard Auctions with Financially Constrained Bidders," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 65(1), pages 1-21, January.
  9. Patrick Legros & Andrew F. Newman, 2007. "Beauty Is a Beast, Frog Is a Prince: Assortative Matching with Nontransferabilities," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 75(4), pages 1073-1102, 07.
  10. Zvika Neeman & Andrew F. Newman & Claudia Olivetti, 2006. "Are Working Women Good for Marriage?," Boston University - Department of Economics - Working Papers Series WP2006-039, Boston University - Department of Economics.
  11. Terra G. Mckinnish, 2004. "Occupation, Sex-Integration, and Divorce," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(2), pages 322-325, May.
  12. Becker, Gary S & Landes, Elisabeth M & Michael, Robert T, 1977. "An Economic Analysis of Marital Instability," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(6), pages 1141-87, December.
  13. Johnson, William R & Skinner, Jonathan, 1986. "Labor Supply and Marital Separation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(3), pages 455-69, June.
  14. Gould, Eric D & Paserman, M. Daniele, 2002. "Waiting for Mr Right: Rising Inequality and Declining Marriage Rates," CEPR Discussion Papers 3388, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  15. Parkman, Allen M, 1992. "Unilateral Divorce and the Labor-Force Participation Rate of Married Women, Revisited," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(3), pages 671-78, June.
  16. Gray, Jeffrey S, 1998. "Divorce-Law Changes, Household Bargaining, and Married Women's Labor Supply," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(3), pages 628-42, June.
  17. Imran Rasul, 2006. "Marriage Markets and Divorce Laws," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 22(1), pages 30-69, April.
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