The Effects of Divorce on Men’s Employment and Social Security Histories



Analyses of the economic consequences of divorce have emphasized the negative effect of divorce for women. For men, consequences of divorce are most often believed to be social or psychological. This is not consistent with an economic literature showing the positive effects of marriage on men’s wages. Using a nationally representative life-history survey among men in the Netherlands, this paper reanalyzes the possible negative effects of a divorce for the careers of men. Complete life histories provide information on upward and downward occupational mobility as well as on unemployment and disability. Multivariate event history models show that after divorce, men experience an increased chance of becoming downwardly mobile, an increased chance of becoming unemployed, and an increased chance of becoming disabled. Additional analyses are done to assess whether these effects are spurious, due to the influence of earlier problems that men experienced in their lives, as measured by indicators of employment problems, health problems, and problems in social relationships. While these variables have an effect on the future career, they are not strong enough to eliminate the divorce effect. Implications are discussed for different theoretical hypotheses about the importance of marriage and divorce for men’s employment.

Key words

divorce employment life course marriage occupational mobility social security 


Les analyses des conséquences économiques du divorce mettent l’accent sur l’effet négatif du divorce chez les femmes. Pour les hommes, on considère souvent qu’il s’agit davantage de conséquences sociales ou psychologiques. Ceci ne cadre pas avec la littérature économique qui montre que le mariage a un effet positif sur les revenus masculins. Grâce à une enquête représentative au niveau national, menée sur les histoires de vie des hommes néerlandais, cet article analyse les possibles effets négatifs du divorce sur les carrières masculines. Les modèles multi-variés d’analyse biographique, appliqués aux histoires complètes de vie, montrent qu’après le divorce, les hommes ont des risques accrus de mobilité vers le bas, de chômage et d’incapacité. Des analyses complémentaires cherchent à déterminer si ces effets sont réels ou dus à l’influence de problèmes antérieurs vécus par les hommes, problèmes d’emploi, problèmes de santé ou difficultés dans les relations sociales. Ces variables ont effectivement un effet sur la suite de la carrière mais leur prise en compte ne suffit pas à annuler complètement l’effet du divorce. Les résultats permettent de discuter différentes hypothèses théoriques sur le rôle du mariage et du divorce dans l’emploi masculin.

Mots clés

aide sociale cycle de vie divorce emploi mariage mobilité professionnelle 


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Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyTilburg UniversityTilburgThe Netherlands

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