ABSTRACT In this article, I ask: Does the effect of wives’ work hours on marital dissolution change across marital duration? Using the first two waves of the National Survey of Families and Households (NSFH), I find only weak evidence that wives’ work hours are associated with higher marital dissolution. The effect, however, is more positive and significant among long-term marriages. In addition, this study also tests whether couples’ gender ideology and marital interaction explain this differential effect of wives’ work hours. The results suggest that couples’ gender ideology does not account for this differential effect of wives’ work hours. The more positive effect among long-term marriages, however, is reduced to insignificance as soon as a marital interaction measure is introduced into the model. This study contributes to broader research in two ways. Despite the weak effect of wives’ work hours on marital dissolution, the buffering effect of marital duration challenges the prior assumption that the effect of wives’ work hours is invariant across marital duration. Second, this study suggests that the more positive effect of wives’ work hours on marital dissolution among long-term marriages can be attributed to couples’ marital interaction in these marriages becoming more important in mediating the effect of wives’ work hours. Given these results, this study suggests that future research should consider the buffering effect of marital duration in understanding the determinants of marital dissolution.
Cite this paper
Yucel, D. (2012). Wives’ Work Hours and Marital Dissolution: Differential Effects across Marital Duration. Sociology Mind, 2, 12-22. doi: 10.4236/sm.2012.21002.
 Allison, P. D. (2002). Missing data. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
 Austen, S. (2004). Labour supply and the risk of divorce: An analysis of Australian data. Australian Economic Review, 37, 153-165.
 Booth, A., & Edwards, J. N. (1985). Age at marriage and marital instability. Journal of Marriage and Family, 47, 67-75.
 Booth, A., Johnson D. R., White, L. K., & Edwards, J. N. (1984). Women, outside employment, and marital instability. American Journal of Sociology, 90, 567-583. doi:10.1086/228117
 Booth, A., Johnson, D. R., White, L. K., & Edwards, J. N. (1985). Predicting divorce and permanent separation. Journal of Family Issues, 6, 331-346. doi:10.1177/019251385006003005
 Booth, A., Johnson, D. R., White, L. K., & Edwards, J. N. (1986). Divorce and marital instability over the life course. Journal of Family Issues, 7, 421-442. doi:10.1177/019251386007004006
 Bumpass, L. L. (1990). What’s happening to the family? Interactions between demographic and institutional change. Demography, 27, 483-498. doi:10.2307/2061566
 Bumpass, L. L., Martin, T. C., & Sweet, J. A. (1991). The impact of family background and early marital factors on marital disruption. Journal of Family Issues, 12, 22-42.
 Cunningham, M. (2001). The influence of parental attitudes and behaviors on children’s attitudestoward gender and household labor in early adulthood. Journal of Marriage and Family, 63, 111-122.
 Esterberg, K. G., Moen, P., & Dempster-McClain, D. (1994). Transition to divorce: A life-course approach to women’s marital duration and dissolution. The Sociological Quarterly, 35, 289-307.
 Frisco, M. L., & Williams, K. (2003). Perceived housework equity, marital happiness, and divorce in dual-earner households. Journal of Family Issues, 24, 51-73. doi:10.1177/0192513X02238520
 Gager, C. T., & Sanchez, L. (2003). Two as one? Couples’ perceptions of time spent together, marital quality, and the risk of divorce. Journal of Family Issues, 24, 21-50. doi:10.1177/0192513X02238519
 Gershuny, J., Bittman, M., & Brice, J. (2005). Exit, voice, and suffering: Do couples adapt to changing employment patterns? Journal of Marriage and Family, 67, 656-665.
 Gray, J. S. (1995). The causality between employment and divorce. Family Economics and Resources Management Biennial, 1, 171-176.
 Greene, W. H., & Quester, A. Q. (1982). Divorce risk and wives’ labor supply behavior. Social Science Quarterly, 63, 16-27.
 Greenstein, T. N. (1990). Marital disruption and the employment of married women. Journal of Marriage and Family, 52, 657-676.
 Greenstein, T. N. (1995). Gender ideology, marital disruption, and the employment of married women. Journal of Marriage and Family, 57, 31-42. doi:10.2307/353814
 Greenstein, T. N. (1996). Gender ideology and perceptions of the fairness of the division of household labor: Effects on marital quality. Social Forces, 74, 1029-1042.
 Hatch, L. R., & Bulcroft, K. (2004). Does long-term marriage bring less frequent disagreements? Five explanatory frameworks. Journal of Family Issues, 25, 465-495. doi:10.1177/0192513X03257766
 Heaton, T. B. (1991). Time-related determinants of marital dissolution. Journal of Marriage and Family, 53, 285-295.
 Heaton, T. B., Albrecht, S. L., & Martin, T. K. (1985). The timing of divorce. Journal of Marriage and Family, 47, 631-640.
 Hill, M. S. (1988). Marital stability and spouses’ shared time. Journal of Family Issues, 9, 427-451. doi:10.1177/019251388009004001
 Hochschild, A. R., & Machung, A. (1989). The second shift. New York, NY: Avon.
 Johnson, J. H. (2004). Do long work hours contribute to divorce? Topics in Economic Analysis and Policy, 4, 1-23.
 Johnson, W. R., & Skinner, J. (1986). Labor supply and marital separation. American Economic Review, 76, 455-469.
 Karney, B. R., & Bradbury, T. N. (1995). The longitudinal course of marital quality and stability: A review of theory, method, and research. Psychological Bulletin, 118, 3-34.
 Kenrick, D. T., Linsenmeier, J. A. W., Norman, P. L., & Bailey, J. M. (2002). The necessities and luxuries of mate preferences: Testing the tradeoffs. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 82, 947- 955. doi:10.1037/0022-3518.104.22.1687
 Kingston, P. W., & Nock, S. L. (1987). Time together among dual- earner couples. American Sociological Review, 52, 391-400.
 Levinger, G. (1979). A social psychological perspective on marital dissolution. In G. Levinger, & O. C. Moles (Eds.), Divorce and separation (pp. 36-70). New York, NY: Basic.
 Lewis, R. A., & Spanier, G. B. (1979). Theorizing about the quality and stability of marriage. In W. Burr, R. Hill, F. I. Nye, & I. Reiss (Eds.), Contemporary theories about the family (pp. 268-294). New York, NY: Free Press.
 Lye, D. N., & Biblarz, T. J. (1993). The effects of attitudes toward family life and gender roles on marital satisfaction. Journal of Family Issues, 14, 157-188. doi:10.1177/019251393014002002
 Mirowsky, J., & Reynolds, J. R. (2000). Age, depression, and attrition in the national survey of families and households. Sociological Methods and Research, 28, 476-504.
 Montalto, C. P., & Gerner, J. L. (1998). The effect of expected changes in marital status on labor supply decisions of women and men. Journal of Divorce and Remarriage, 28, 25-51.
 Morgan, S. P., & Rindfuss, R. R. (1985). Marital disruption: Structural and temporal dimensions. American Journal of Sociology, 90, 1055-1077. doi:10.1086/228176
 Mott, F. L., & Moore, S. F. (1979). The causes of marital disruption among young American women: An interdisciplinary perspective. Journal of Marriage and Family, 41, 355-365. doi:10.2307/351702
 Papps, K. L. (2006). The effects of divorce risk on the labor supply of married couples. IZA Discussion Paper, No. 2395.
 Poortman, A. (2005). How work affects divorce: The mediating role of financial and time pressures. Journal of Family Issues, 26, 168-195.
 Presser, H. B. (2000). Nonstandard work schedules and marital instability. Journal of Marriage and Family, 62, 93-110.
 Rogers, S. J. (1999). Wives’ income and marital quality: Are there reciprocal effects? Journal of Marriage and Family, 61, 123-132.
 Sanchez, L., & Gager, C. T. (2000). Hard living, perceived entitlement to a great marriage, and marital dissolution. Journal of Marriage and Family, 62, 708-722. doi:10.1111/j.1741-3737.2000.00708.x
 Sayer, L. C., & Bianchi, S. M. (2000). Women’s economic independence and the probability of divorce: A review and reexamination. Journal of Family Issues, 21, 906-943.
 Schmitt, M., Kliegel, M., & Shapiro, A. (2007). Marital interaction in middle and old age: A predictor of marital satisfaction? The International Journal of Aging and Human Development, 65, 283-300.
 Schoen, R. (1975). California divorce rates by age at first marriage and duration of first marriage. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 37, 548-555. doi:10.2307/350518
 Schoen, R., Astone, N. M., Rothert, K., Standish, N. J., & Kim, Y. J. (2002). Women’s employment, marital happiness, and divorce. Social Forces, 81, 643-662. doi:10.1353/sof.2003.0019
 Schoen, R., Rogers, S. J., & Amato, P. R. (2006). Wives’ employment and spouses’ marital happiness: Assessing the direction of influence using longitudinal couple data. Journal of Family Issues, 27, 506-528. doi:10.1177/0192513X05283983
 Schoen, R., & Wooldredge, J. (1989). Marriage choices in North Carolina and Virginia, 1969-1971 and 1979-1981. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 51, 465-481. doi:10.2307/352508
 Sen, B. (2000). How important is anticipation of divorce in married women’s labor supply decisions? An intercohort comparison using NLS data. Economics Letters, 67, 209-216.
 Simon, R. W. (2002). Revisiting the relationships among gender, marital status, and mental health. American Journal of Sociology, 107, 1065-1096. doi:10.1086/339225
 Smith-Lovin, L., & Tickamyer, A. R. (1978). Nonrecursive models of labor force participation, fertility behavior, and sex role attitudes. American Sociological Review, 43, 541-557. doi:10.2307/2094778
 South, S. J. (2001). Time-dependent effects of wives’ employment on marital dissolution. American Sociological Review, 66, 226-245.
 South, S. J., & Spitze, G. (1986). Determinants of divorce over the marital life course. American Sociological Review, 51, 583-590.
 Spitze, G., & South, S. J. (1985). Women’s employment, time expenditure, and divorce. Journal of Family Issues, 6, 307-329.
 Sweet, J. A., & Bumpass, L. L. (1987). American families and households. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.
 Sweet, J. A., & Bumpass, L. L. (2002). The national survey of families and households—Waves 1, 2, and 3: Data description and documentation. Madison: Center for Demography and Ecology, University of Wisconsin-Madison.
 Sweet, J. A., Bumpass, L. L., & Call, V. A. (1988). The design and content of the national survey of families and households. Madison: Center for Demography and Ecology, University of Wisconsin- Madison.
 Voydanoff, P. (1988). Work role characteristics, family structure demands, and work/family conflict. Journal of Marriage and Family, 50, 749-761. doi:10.2307/352644
 Wentworth, D. K., & Chell, R. M. (2005). Gender identity at home: Comparing the role of househusband to housewife. In J. W. Lee (Ed.), Psychology of gender identity (pp. 113-126). Hauppauge, NY: Nova Biomedical.
 White, L. K., & Booth, A. (1991). Divorce over the life course: The role of marital happiness. Journal of Family Issues, 12, 5-21.
 Wilkerson, J. A., Yamawaki, N., & Downs, S. D. (2009). Effects of husbands’ migration on mental health and gender role ideology of rural Mexican women. Health Care for Women International, 30, 612-626. doi:10.1080/07399330902928824