What Spousal Alternatives? Marriage Market Conditions and Divorce Risk Reconsidered

Torkild Lyngstad, Statistics Norway

This study goes beyond earlier research regarding the relationship between the availability of alternative partners and divorce risk. Although the existing literature shows that the supply of spousal alternatives has a positive impact on the couple's divorce risk, it fails to take two aspects into consideration: The impact of marriage market conditions on divorce risk is contingent on the available alternative partners being of a high enough "quality" to be perceived as true alternatives, and on the age structure of the local population. Rather than using only the sex ratio of a fixed age group to measure the availability of alternatives, we take into account both the age and the quality of potential partners by using finer measures to capture variation in marriage market conditions. Multi-level hazard models are estimated using a register-based data set of all Norwegian first marriages contracted 1980-2000 (n>260000) that includes both municipal-level and couple-level data.

Presented in Poster Session 5: Union Formation and Dissolution, Fertility, Family and Well-being