A husband’s unemployment increases the risk of divorce
Acton Institute Powerblog

A husband’s unemployment increases the risk of divorce

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.

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Joe Carter

Joe Carter is a Senior Editor at the Acton Institute. Joe also serves as an editor at the The Gospel Coalition, a communications specialist for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and as an adjunct professor of journalism at Patrick Henry College. He is the editor of the NIV Lifehacks Bible and co-author of How to Argue like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History's Greatest Communicator (Crossway).