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Do money matters affect the divorce rate?

A study out of Harvard University and set to be published in the American Sociological Review sheds new light on what contributes to the likelihood of divorce. The study examined data from more than 6,300 heterosexual couples ranging in age from 18 to 55. Researchers were looking to see how finances, the wives’ earning potential and overall division of labor impacted marital satisfaction and the risk of divorce.

Surprisingly, the results showed that financial issues and how much money a couple makes do not usually affect the risk of divorce. However, division of labor, both paid and unpaid, did. According to the study results, couples who had a more equal division of the household chores were more likely to stay together.

While far more men are doing chores than before — something the study found was appreciated by their wives — 70 percent of the unpaid work still falls to the women, regardless of whether one or both parties is working outside the home. The study also found that the husband being unemployed increased the divorce risk by nearly 32 percent, while the women’s employment status and earning potential mattered little.

Researchers indicate that this likely due to the impact of traditional gender roles, and that men are still expected to be the main income earners. However, if the trends continue and men pick up a more equal share of the unpaid household work, this pressure to be financially successful could decrease and no longer have the same impact on the divorce rate. In the meantime, those who do divorce need to be aware of how income and other financial considerations can factor into the property division and support processes.

Source: LifeZette, “Biggest Threat to Marriages,” Carleen Wild, Aug. 01, 2016

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