Economic Determinants of Divorce Among Dual-Earner Couples: Jews in Israel

Liat Raz-Yurovich*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


The second half of the twentieth century saw tremendous changes in the economics of the household, as women entered the labor force in growing numbers and the share of dual-earners couples increased. These changes challenge the available theories which explain divorce by economic factors, as they are mostly molded in the homemaker-breadwinner model. In this study, we investigate the validity of two main groups of theories: one which asserts that women's work has a destabilizing effect on marriage, and assumes asymmetry between the spouses; and another which states that women's employment has a stabilizing effect, and assumes that relations between spouses are symmetric. By employing a large-scale longitudinal register-based data for the Jewish population in Israel, we find asymmetry in the effect of the spouses' economic characteristics on marital instability, which suggest that theories that assert asymmetry and power relations between the spouses better explain transition to divorce among this group. In line with theories of income pooling, higher shared salaries are found to increase marital stability. Nonetheless, our results demonstrate that the basic assumption of symmetry between the spouses in these theories does not hold. Although employment stability for both spouses appears to reduce divorce risk, only the husband's salary is shown to negatively affect the odds of divorce and only the wife's working hours and sector of employment affect marriage instability. Moreover, couples in which the wife earns as much as or more than the husband are found to have the highest divorce risk.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)177-203
Number of pages27
JournalEuropean Journal of Population
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Divorce
  • Dual-career
  • Dual-earner
  • Employment stability
  • Israeli families
  • Marital dissolution
  • Paid work
  • Register-data


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