Women’s employment after divorce: country differences in the effect of role specialization during marriage

Maike van Damme, Tilburg University
Matthijs Kalmijn, Tilburg University

Specialization in domestic work is generally considered an important factor explaining the severe economic consequences of divorce for women. But this is never tested directly by the marital history of women. Do women who divorce faster (after a shorter partnership) have less severe economic consequences? And is that because they did not specialize in domestic work as much as women who stayed in longer partnerships? Using the Fertility and Family Surveys of 16 countries, we measure specialization in domestic work by the child and work history of divorced women during their partnership and examine their influence on women’s employment after separation. Furthermore, we investigate how large the effect of divorce is on women’s employment in each country, taking selectivity bias in life course and human capital characteristics into account. Preliminary analyses for several countries show that a divorce indeed increases the odds of employment, but only for those who do not repartner. We also find that women who spent less time on children and invested more in their human capital during their partnership are more likely to work after separation. We did not find an effect of partnership duration (a proxy for other unmeasured specialization in domestic work) on women’s odds of post-separation employment.

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Presented in Session 67: Lone-Motherhood: Well-Being and Partnership Formation

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