Related to my post earlier this week, a new working paper shows that women in the US respond to increased divorce rates by working harder. Knowledge of high divorce rates appears to be enough to incentivize working harder in anticipation of even a probabilistic one-earner household. I haven’t had the chance to read the paper itself (I will, but 68 pages!?), but Ezra Klein discusses it here:
Why would this be the case? Researchers believe it’s because marriage provides “implicit social insurance” for women, who are still more likely to be the secondary income-earners in the U.S. and Europe. So in the U.S., where divorce rates are higher, “women have a higher incentive to obtain work experience in case they find themselves alone in the future,” they write. “European women anticipate not getting divorced as often and hence find less reason to insure themselves by working as much as American women.”
A longer treatment of the paper by the authors is on the VoxEU website.
Referenced: Chakraborty, Indraneel, Hans A Holter and Serhiy Stepanchuk (2012). “Marriage Stability, Taxation and Aggregate Labor Supply in the US vs. Europe”, Working Paper.