Applying a multiple equilibrium framework to divorce risks in Germany

Gosta Esping-Andersen, Universitat Pompeu Fabra
Daniela Bellani, Universitat Pompeu Fabra

Abstract: For many years now, divorce research has focused on the influence of women’s new economic role. A number of studies show that divorce risks are associated with women’s income. And, yet, there is also mounting evidence that the social gradient of divorce is being reversed. How does one reconcile such findings? In this paper we offer an alternative framework, based on multiple equilibrium models, that predicts that couple instability should be greatest where strong normative consensus is absent – i.e. in unstable equilibria. We should expect significantly lower divorce risks in either the traditional family equilibrium or in a (possibly) emerging gender-egalitarian one. One important upshot is that research on family dynamics should be more sensitive to non-linearities. Using the GSOEP waves 1986-2009, we apply discrete time event history analysis to West German couples and relate partnership durations to couple specialization. We focus particularly on inequity effects related to the division of domestic and market work.

Presented in Session 72: Union dissolution