The Educational Gradient in Divisions of Household Labour and Divorce Risk in Britain and Germany

Rossella Icardi
Marina Fernandez Salgado, Alcala' University
Lynn Prince Cooke, University of Bath

Increase in divorce risk is one of the main characteristics of modern societies. Existing research has addressed the socio-economic antecedents of marital dissolution. However, whilst a wide literature has explored how wives’ income contribution affect marital stability, comparatively less literature has investigated how the division between paid and unpaid work within couples affect the probability to divorce. In addition, studies have found that divorce risk is not equal across socio-economic groups, but it varies according to the educational level of husbands and wives. Some literature speculates that divorce risk is lower among the more-highly educated because they support a more egalitarian household divisions of tasks. Using panel data from Germany and Britain, this work will test this assertion and explore whether divorce risk is affected by how couple share paid and unpaid work, and whether this varies by educational level. The countries are historically male breadwinner models, but they differ in the extent to which policies influence the private sphere. Results vary across the two countries. We find that how couples share their time in both paid and unpaid work affects the risk of divorce in Germany, whereas in England divorce risk is influenced only by differences in the division of work time. These results highlight the importance of the socioeconomic context in exploring how policies shapes how gender gets done in the intimate and public sphere and how it affects marital stability.

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 Presented in Session 96. Union Dissolution 1