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Does divorce risk depend on the relative income of spouses? A study of first marriages in Sweden from 1981 to 1998

Guiping Liu, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research
Andres Vikat, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research

The relationship between increasing women’s earnings and rising divorce rates frequently has been explained by the so-called independence effect: If a wife enjoys a higher earning than her husband does, she gains less from marriage. It has also been argued that in a society with egalitarian gender attitudes this effect is less important. In this paper, we test if the independence effect applies to Sweden, a country in which egalitarian gender views dominate and female labor-force participation and divorce rates are high. Our analysis is based on a large register data set and intensity regression models. We found support for the ‘independence effect’: The linear relationship between the share of a wife’s income and the divorce risk is positive regardless of the couple’s total income and the wife's or the husband's education level.

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Presented in Poster Session 2: Poster Session 2