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Are Working Women Good for Marriage?

  • Zvika Neeman

    ()

    (Department of Economics, Boston University\par)

  • Andrew F. Newman

    ()

    (Department of Economics, Boston University\par)

  • Claudia Olivetti

    ()

    (Department of Economics, Boston University)

Divorce rates in the U.S. have been falling for the past decade, while female labor force participation rates have been rising. Aggregate data for US states show that in 2000, divorce rates across states are negatively correlated with female labor force participation rates, even after controlling for the variation in the average age of marriage. We connect these two trends in a simple random matching model which starts from the observation that a working woman, because she is paid in cash, has greater flexibility to transfer surplus to her husband than a non-working woman. Under unilateral divorce law, this implies that a marriage with two working partners is more stable with respect to outside offers than a marriage with only one working partner: marriages between working partners break up only if it is effcient to do so, while marriages between a working and nonworking spouse may break up ineffciently. We show that in aggregate there is a predicted inverted U relationship between the divorce rate and fraction of working women.

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Paper provided by Boston University - Department of Economics in its series Boston University - Department of Economics - Working Papers Series with number WP2006-039.

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Length: 23 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:bos:wpaper:wp2006-039
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Web page: http://www.bu.edu/econ/

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  1. Jeremy Greenwood & Nezih Guner, 2009. "Marriage and Divorce since World War II: Analyzing the Role of Technological Progress on the Formation of Households," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2008, Volume 23, pages 231-276 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Johnson, William R & Skinner, Jonathan, 1986. "Labor Supply and Marital Separation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(3), pages 455-69, June.
  6. 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.
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