Abstract

Contrary to previous studies treating divorce as a couple’s decision, we make a distinction between ‘his’, ‘her’, and ‘their’ divorce by using information about who initiated divorce. Using competing risk analysis, we re-examine four well-known determinants of divorce: (i) the wife’s employment, (ii) the financial situation of the household, (iii) the presence of children, and (iv) the quality of the match. Because existing arguments on the underlying mechanisms focus on the relative costs and benefits of a divorce for the wife, the husband and/or the couple, this approach offers new insights into the validity of competing theories. Our results confirm some theoretical interpretations, but they refute others. Furthermore, our findings shed light on the gendered nature of divorce. We not only find that women more often take the initiative to divorce, we also find that many social and economic determinants have stronger effects on ‘her’ divorce than on ‘his’ divorce. The one exception is children, which seem to affect men’s decision to (not) divorce more strongly than women’s decision.

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