Women’s economic activity and the marital stability in Poland

Marta Styrc, Warsaw School of Economics
Anna Matysiak, Warsaw School of Economics

The economic theory of family predicts a destabilising effect of women’s employment on marriages. This prediction has come in doubt, recently, as women have been increasingly present in the labour market, there has been an ongoing change in gender roles and household organisation has been shifting from production to consumption. It has been argued that in modern societies decisions to remain married depend more on satisfaction from the quality of the union and that similarity of economic activities and interests may improve understanding between spouses. Moreover, the additional income provided by a woman leads to higher living standards and thus should reduce marital strains. The aim of the study is to contribute to the discussion on the association between woman’s economic activity and marital stability through investigating the case of Poland. This country is an interesting case study for this research purpose as it is characterised by a strong social expectations toward women to withdraw from employment to provide care of young children and to return to paid work and contribute to the household income once children grow older. To this end, we estimate an event-history model for marital disruption using the Polish GGS (2011). The major explanatory variable is woman’s current labour market status and her earning potential, measured with indicators of socio-economic status. We also account for the intervening effect of children and try to control for selection effects, by estimating the hazard of marital disruption jointly with a probit of being employed. We expect that women’s inactivity stabilizes marital unions when children are young and require care, but has no longer such an effect after children reach the school age. We also envisage that the effect of women’s employment on marital stability changes after selection effects are accounted for and becomes insignificant or even positive.

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Presented in Poster Session 2