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Are Working Women Good for Marriage?

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Listed:
  • Zvika Neeman

    () (Department of Economics, Boston University\par)

  • Andrew F. Newman

    () (Department of Economics, Boston University\par)

  • Claudia Olivetti

    () (Department of Economics, Boston University)

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:bos:wpaper:wp2006-039
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    References listed on IDEAS

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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. Yeon-Koo Che & Ian Gale, 1998. "Standard Auctions with Financially Constrained Bidders," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 65(1), pages 1-21.
    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 1-32, January.
    4. Johnson, William R & Skinner, Jonathan, 1986. "Labor Supply and Marital Separation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(3), pages 455-469, June.
    5. 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 117-146, January.
    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 1141-1187, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Zvika Neeman & Andrew F. Newman & Claudia Olivetti, 2008. "Are Career Women Good for Marriage?," Boston University - Department of Economics - The Institute for Economic Development Working Papers Series dp-167, Boston University - Department of Economics.
    2. Chen, Natalie & Conconi, Paola & Perroni, Carlo, 2007. "Women’s Earning Power and the “Double Burden” of Market and Household Work," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 800, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.

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