He Left, She Left: Gains to Marriage, Relative Resources, and Divorce Initiation

Liana C. Sayer, Ohio State University
Paul Allison, University of Pennsylvania

Theories of divorce contain, at least implicitly, ideas about when and under what circumstances husbands or wives will initiate divorce. The innovation of our study is to use three waves of the National Survey of Families and Households (NSFH) to classify divorces according to whether the wife or husband initiates it and to analyze the distinct determinants of women leaving men and men leaving women. Preliminary results with two waves of the NSFH indicate that there is substantial evidence that having a dim view of the quality of the marriage at Wave 1 is associated with being the one to initiate divorce by Wave 2, although the evidence is much clearer for wives than husbands. Preliminary results also suggest that relative earnings do not affect initiation, failing to confirm the women’s independence effect.

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Presented in Session 42: Union Dissolution