As I note every month when reporting on the latest unemployment data, jobs are one of the most important aspects of a morally functioning economy. They help us serve the needs of our neighbors and lead to human flourishing both for the individual and for communities. Conversely, not having a job can adversely affect spiritual and psychological well-being of individuals and families.
In fact, a new study finds that for marriages formed after 1975, a husbands’ lack of full-time employment is associated with higher risk of divorce:
A Harvard University study suggests that neither financial strains nor women’s increased ability to get out of an unhappy marriage, starting in the 1970s, is typically the main reason for a split.
The big factor, Harvard sociology professor Alexandra Killewald found, is the husband’s employment status. For the past four decades, she discovered, husbands who aren’t employed full time have a 3.3 percent chance of getting divorced in any given year, compared with 2.5 percent for husbands employed full time. In other words, their marriages are one-third more likely to break up.
Examining 46 years of data on more than 6,300 married couples in the U.S., Killewald found a big shift in the risk of divorce in the mid-1970s. Couples married before 1975 were likelier to split up if women and men divided the housework equally, perhaps because the husband saw a threat to his traditional role in the household. Since 1975, housework hasn’t been much of a factor. The guy’s job has.