The Impact of job-related mobility and migration intentions on union dissolution

Stefanie A. Kley, Universität Hamburg

This contribution considers the question of whether long-distance commuting between the place of residence and the place of work increases the risk of separation for couples. Starting with theoretical considerations based on the social exchange theory and the micro-economic theory of divorce, both married and unmarried couples with different spatial household arrangements are analysed. The data come from random samples drawn from the panel study ‘Migration Decisions in the Life Course’ in two German cities. Partnership, residence, and occupational information are investigated longitudinally for 890 couples over an observation period of three years. Discrete event history models show that long-distance commuting between home and work significantly enhances the risk of separation for couples if the woman commutes but not if the man commutes. Furthermore, important differences between Eastern and Western Germany appear, replicating newer findings about the influence of female full-time employment on the stability of partnerships: In the West German sample, female full-time employment per se exerts a negative effect on the stability of partnerships. In the East German sample, though, it is not the full-time employment of women but the necessity to commute over long distances that enhances the risk of separation significantly. Further analyses show that the negative effects of female long-distance commuting are detectible in various work arrangements and household constellations of couples. The findings provide little evidence for the exchange theory and the micro-economic theory of divorce but rather support bargaining model theories.

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Presented in Poster Session 3