Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Husband's employment status threatens marriage, but wife's does not, study finds

I am losing track where I get my links from. Anyhow scientific stuff and Feck is interested:

According to the study, a woman's employment status has no effect on the likelihood that her husband will opt to leave the marriage. An employed woman is more likely to initiate a divorce than a woman who is not employed, but only when she reports being highly unsatisfied with the marriage.

[...]For a man, not being employed not only increases the chances that his wife will initiate divorce, but also that he will be the one who opts to leave. Even men who are relatively happy in their marriages are more likely to leave if they are not employed, the research found.

Taken together, the findings suggest an "asymmetric" change in traditional gender roles in marriage, the researchers say.

That men who are not employed, regardless of their marital satisfaction, are more likely to initiate divorce suggests that a marriage in which the man does not work "does not look like what [men] think a marriage is supposed to," the researchers write. In contrast, women's employment alone does not encourage divorce initiated by either party. That implies that a woman's choice to enter the workforce is not a violation of any marriage norms. Rather, being employed merely provides financial security that enables a woman to leave when all else fails.

"These effects probably emanate from the greater change in women's than men's roles," the researchers write. "Women's employment has increased and is accepted, men's nonemployment is unacceptable to many, and there is a cultural ambivalence and lack of institutional support for men taking on 'feminized' roles such as household work and emotional support."

The research used data on over 3,600 couples taken from three waves of the National Survey of Families and Households. Waves were conducted in 1987-88, 1992-94, and 2001-2

Liana C. Sayer, Paula England, Paul Allison, and Nicole Kangas. She Left, He Left: How Employment and Satisfaction Affect Men's and Women's Decisions to Leave Marriages. American Journal of Sociology, 2011


  1. Feck, I just now found your blog. I think you were mentioned in the Man Boobz Challenge.
    I wanted to mention on this post that I would suppose we might see similar figures for marriages where the woman lost her figure or otherwise, her "sex appeal."
    I don't think that this study necessarily shows that women see men as only "success objects" but perhaps a woman who otherwise wouldn't marry a man considers him a "consolation prize" due to him having a good, steady job. When that is gone - she reevaluates her original reasons for marrying him and finds him wanting.

  2. It wouldn't surprise me if we have similar findings for a study on attractiveness, but am not really sure how high that number would be. I believe about 2/3 of divorces are initiated by women (must have used the number somewhere here), it seems to me men are not exactly divorce happy, far from it.

    Not that I would say that women always view men as success objects, but how is not marrying him when he has no good steady job a sign that he is not a success object? It seems that is the whole attitude behind success objects?

    I was mentioned by Man Boobz? Am I getting some popularity here? Nah....that can't be.

  3. Oh and *ahem* welcome...(I am not really used to be having comments here mostly)...should use that one more often. Ha!