Skip to content!

July 19, 2011


Labor and Love - Employment Effects on Divorce Risk in Eleven Countries


July 19, 2011


DIW Berlin im Quartier 110
Room 3.3.002A
Mohrenstraße 58
10117 Berlin


Lynn Prince Cooke, Professor of Sociology at the University of Surrey in Guildford, UK

Introduction: Christian Schmitt
Moderation: Elke Holst

In this lecture, Lynn P. Cooke will discuss various aspects of her recent research on the instability in couple relationships in the post-war period. Some social scientists attribute this increasing likelihood of divorce and separation to the increase in partnered women's employment. Yet in post-industrial economies, institutional support for partnered women's employment varies considerably. In the harmonized analyses presented here, panel (East and West Germany, United Kingdom, USA), register (Finland, Norway, Sweden), and retrospective (Australia, Flanders, France, Italy, the Netherlands) data and discrete time event history analyses are used to compare the divorce risk associated with wives' and husbands' employment across country contexts. In countries that historically institutionalized a gendered division of labor, a wife's employment increases the risk of divorce, although effects now reach statistical significance only in Italy. In the United States, where market (in)equality dominates, wives' employment also significantly increases divorce risk despite its prevalence. Where institutions instead support greater gender equality in paid as well as unpaid work, couples with an employed wife are significantly less likely to divorce than couples where the wife remains out of the labor force. Thus institutional support for greater gender equality makes wives' employment a stabilizing force in modern couples.

Lynn Prince Cooke (DPhil, Nuffield College, Oxford University) is Professor of Sociology at the University of Surrey in Guildford, UK. From an interdisciplinary perspective and using a multimethod approach, her comparative research explores institutional effects on the division of labor in societies, and the subsequent impact of these divisions on life course outcomes. Her research has appeared in American Journal of Sociology, European Sociological Review, Journal of Social Policy, and Journal of Marriage and Family. She serves on the editorial boards of the first two journals and co-authored the JMF decade review article on "Families in International Perspective." Her monograph, Gender-Class Equality in Political Economies, was released 2011. During July 15-31, 2011. Lynn Prince Cooke will be staying at the DIW Berlin, Dept. Germany Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP) and the Cross-Departmental Research Group Gender Studies at DIW Berlin as a guest researcher. Her research visit is supported by the DAAD Senior Academic visiting fellowship.

If you are interested to participate please respond by 15, 2011 to Christiane Nitsche: