Demography

, Volume 50, Issue 3, pp 1013–1038 | Cite as

Does Culture Affect Divorce? Evidence From European Immigrants in the United States

Article

Abstract

This article explores the role of culture in determining divorce by examining country-of-origin differences in divorce rates of immigrants in the United States. Because childhood-arriving immigrants are all exposed to a common set of U.S. laws and institutions, we interpret relationships between their divorce tendencies and home-country divorce rates as evidence of the effect of culture. Our results are robust to controlling for several home-country variables, including average church attendance and gross domestic product (GDP). Moreover, specifications with country-of-origin fixed effects suggest that immigrants from countries with low divorce rates are especially less likely to be divorced if they reside among a large number of coethnics. Supplemental analyses indicate that divorce culture has a stronger impact on the divorce decisions of females than of males, pointing to a potentially gendered nature of divorce taboos.

Keywords

Divorce Culture Immigrants 

Supplementary material

13524_2012_180_MOESM1_ESM.doc (130 kb)
ESM 1(DOCX 129 KB)

References

  1. Akerlof, G. A., & Kranton, R. E. (2000). Economics and identity. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 115, 715–753.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Allen, D. W. (1998). No-fault divorce in Canada: Its cause and effect. Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 37, 129–149.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Almond, D., Jr., Edlund, L., & Milligan, K. (2009). Son preference and the persistence of culture: Evidence from Asian immigrants to Canada (NBER Working Paper No. 15391). Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research.Google Scholar
  4. Amato, P. R. (1996). Explaining the intergenerational transmission of divorce. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 58, 628–640.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Antecol, H. (2000). An examination of cross-country differences in the gender gap in labor force participation rates. Labour Economics, 7, 409–426.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bahr, H. M., & Chadwick, B. A. (1985). Religion and family in Middletown, USA. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 47, 407–414.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Becker, G. S., Landes, E. M., & Michael, R. T. (1977). An economic analysis of marital instability. Journal of Political Economy, 85, 1141–1187.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bertrand, M., Luttmer, E. F. P., & Mullainathan, S. (2000). Network effects and welfare cultures. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 115, 1019–1055.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bisin, A., Topa, G., & Verdier, T. (2004). Religious intermarriage and socialization in the United States. Journal of Political Economy, 112, 615–664.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bisin, A., & Verdier, T. (2000). Beyond the melting pot: Cultural transmission, marriage, and the evolution of ethnic and religious traits. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 115, 955–988.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Boheim, R., & Ermisch, J. (2001). Partnership dissolution in the UK: The role of economic circumstances. Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, 63, 197–208.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Borjas, G. J. (2005). The labor-market impact of high-skill immigration. The American Economic Review, 95(2), 56–60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Breault, K. D., & Kposowa, A. J. (1987). Explaining divorce in the United States: A study of 3,111 counties in 1980. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 49, 549–558.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Brinig, M. F., & Allen, D. W. (2000). “These boots are made for walking”: Why most divorce filers are women. American Law and Economics Review, 2, 126–169.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Brügger, B., Lalive, R., & Zweimüller, J. (2009). Does culture affect unemployment? Evidence from Röstigraben (IZA Discussion Papers 4283). Bonn, Germany: Institute for the Study of Labor.Google Scholar
  16. Burgess, S., Propper, C., & Aassve, A. (2003). The role of income in marriage and divorce transitions among young Americans. Journal of Population Economics, 16, 455–475.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Carroll, C. D., Rhee, B.-K., & Rhee, C. (1994). Are there cultural effects on saving? Some cross-sectional evidence. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 109, 685–699.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Chiswick, B. R., & Houseworth, C. A. (2008) Ethnic intermarriage among immigrants: Human capital and assortative mating (IZA Discussion Papers 3740). Bonn, Germany: Institute for the Study of Labor.Google Scholar
  19. Chong, A., & La Ferrara, E. (2009). Television and divorce: Evidence from Brazilian novellas. Journal of the European Economic Association, 7, 458–468.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Dickert-Conlin, S. (1999). Taxes and transfers: Their effects on the decision to end a marriage. Journal of Public Economics, 73, 217–240.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Fernández, R. (2007). Women, work, and culture. Journal of the European Economic Association, 5, 305–332.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Fernández, R. (2011). Does culture matter? In J. Benhabib, M. O. Jackson, & A. Bisin (Eds.), Handbook of social economics (Vol. 1A, pp. 481–510). Amsterdam, The Netherlands: North-Holland.Google Scholar
  23. Fernández, R., & Fogli, A. (2005). Culture: An empirical investigation of beliefs, work, and fertility (NBER Working Paper No. 11268). Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research.Google Scholar
  24. Fernández, R., & Fogli, A. (2006). Fertility: The role of culture and family experience. Journal of the European Economic Association, 4, 522–561.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Fernández, R., & Fogli, A. (2009). Culture: An empirical investigation of beliefs, work, and fertility. American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, 1, 146–177.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Friedberg, L. (1998). Did unilateral divorce raise divorce rates? Evidence from panel data. The American Economic Review, 88, 608–627.Google Scholar
  27. Furtado, D., & Theodoropoulos, N. (2011). Interethnic marriage: A choice between ethnic and educational similarities. Journal of Population Economics, 24, 1257–1279.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Giuliano, P. (2007). Living arrangements in Western Europe: Does cultural origin matter? Journal of the European Economic Association, 5, 927–952.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Glenn, N. D., & Shelton, B. A. (1985). Regional differences in divorce in the United States. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 47, 641–652.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. González, L., & Viitanen, T. K. (2009). The effect of divorce laws on divorce rates in Europe. European Economic Review, 53, 127–138.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. González-Val, R., & Marcén, M. (2012a). Breaks in the breaks: An analysis of divorce rates in Europe. International Review of Law and Economics, 33, 242–255.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. González-Val, R., & Marcén, M. (2012b). Unilateral divorce versus child custody and child support in the U.S. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 81, 613–643.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Gray, J. S. (1998). Divorce-law changes, household bargaining, and married women’s labor supply. The American Economic Review, 88, 628–642.Google Scholar
  34. Gruber, J. (2004). Is making divorce easier bad for children? The long-run implications of unilateral divorce. Journal of Labor Economics, 22, 799–833.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Guiso, L., Sapienza, P., & Zingales, L. (2006). Does culture affect economic outcomes? Journal of Economic Perspectives, 20(2), 23–48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Halla, M. (Forthcoming). The effect of joint custody on marriage and divorce. Journal of the European Economic Association.Google Scholar
  37. Heaton, T. B., & Blake, A. M. (1999). Gender differences in determinants of marital disruption. Journal of Family Issues, 20, 25–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Heim, B. T. (2003). Does child support enforcement reduce divorce rates? A reexamination. Journal of Human Resources, 38, 773–791.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Isen, A., & Stevenson, B. (2010). Women’s education and family behavior: Trends in marriage, divorce and fertility (NBER Working Paper No. 15725). Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research.Google Scholar
  40. Jalovaara, M. (2003). The joint effects of marriage partners’ socioeconomic positions on the risk of divorce. Demography, 40, 67–81.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Jensen, P., & Smith, N. (1990). Unemployment and marital dissolution. Journal of Population Economics, 3, 215–229.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Johnson, W. R., & Skinner, J. (1986). Labor supply and marital separation. The American Economic Review, 76, 455–469.Google Scholar
  43. Kalmijn, M. (1993). Spouse selection among the children of European immigrants: A comparison of marriage cohorts in the 1960 census. International Migration Review, 27, 51–78.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Kalmijn, M. (2009). Country differences in the effects of divorce on well-being: The role of norms, support, and selectivity. European Sociological Review, 26, 459–479.Google Scholar
  45. Kalmijn, M., De Graaf, P. M., & Poortman, A.-R. (2004). Interactions between cultural and economic determinants of divorce in the Netherlands. Journal of Marriage and Family, 66, 75–89.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Kalmijn, M., & Poortman, A.-R. (2006). His or her divorce: The gendered nature of divorce and its determinants. European Sociological Review, 22, 201–214.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Kalmijn, M., & Uunk, W. (2007). Regional value differences in Europe and the social consequences of divorce: A test of the stigmatization hypothesis. Social Science Research, 36, 447–468.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Lehrer, E. (2008). Age at marriage and marital instability: Revisiting the Becker-Landes-Michael hypothesis. Journal of Population Economics, 21, 463–484.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Lehrer, E. L., & Chiswick, C. U. (1993). Religion as a determinant of marital stability. Demography, 30, 385–404.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Lillard, L. A., Brien, M. J., & Waite, L. J. (1995). Premarital cohabitation and subsequent marital dissolution: A matter of self-selection? Demography, 32, 437–457.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. McDermott, R., Christakis, N. A., & Fowler, J. H. (2009). Breaking up is hard to do, unless everyone else is doing it too: Social network effects on divorce in a longitudinal sample followed for 32 years. Unpublished manuscript. Retrieved from http://ssrn.com/abstract=1490708
  52. Nixon, L. A. (1997). The effect of child support enforcement on marital dissolution. Journal of Human Resources, 32, 159–181.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Peters, H. E. (1986). Marriage and divorce: Informational constraints and private contracting. The American Economic Review, 76, 437–454.Google Scholar
  54. Ruggles, S. (1997). The rise of divorce and separation in the United States, 1880–1990. Demography, 34, 455–466.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Ruggles, S., Alexander, J. T., Genadek, K., Goeken, R., Schroeder, M. B., & Sobek, M. (2010). Integrated Public Use Microdata Series: Version 5.0 [Machine-readable database]. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota.Google Scholar
  56. Sevilla-Sanz, A. (2010). Division of household labor and cross-country differences in household formation rates. Journal of Population Economics, 23, 225–249.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Smith, I. (1997). Explaining the growth of divorce in Great Britain. Scottish Journal of Political Economy, 44, 519–543.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Stevenson, B., & Wolfers, J. (2007). Marriage and divorce: Changes and their driving forces. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 21(2), 27–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Suchindran, C. M., & Koo, H. P. (1992). Age at last birth and its components. Demography, 29, 227–245.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Svarer, M., & Verner, M. (2008). Do children stabilize relationships in Denmark? Journal of Population Economics, 21, 395–417.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Tjøtta, S., & Vaage, K. (2008). Public transfers and marital dissolution. Journal of Population Economics, 21, 419–437.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Trent, K., & South, S. J. (1989). Structural determinants of the divorce rate: A cross-societal analysis. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 51, 391–404.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. United Nations. (2006). Table 2. Population by marital status, age, sex, urban/rural residence: Each census, 1985–2004. In Demographic Yearbook Special Census Topics. Retrieved from http://unstats.un.org/unsd/demographic/products/dyb/dybcensus/V1_Table2.pdf
  64. United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Statistical Division Database. (2011). Population, 5-year age groups, by marital status and sex. Retrieved from http://w3.unece.org/pxweb/dialog/varval.asp?ma=005_GEPOPop5YearMaSta_r&path=../database/STAT/30-GE/01-Pop/&lang=1&ti=Population%2C+5-year+age+groups%2C+by+marital+status+and+sex
  65. van Poppel, F., & de Beer, J. (1993). Measuring the effect of changing legislation on the frequency of divorce: The Netherlands, 1830–1990. Demography, 30, 425–441.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Waite, L. J., & Lillard, L. A. (1991). Children and marital disruption. The American Journal of Sociology, 96, 930–953.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Weiss, Y., & Willis, R. J. (1997). Match quality, new information, and marital dissolution. Journal of Labor Economics, 15, S293–S329.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. White, L. K. (1990). Determinants of divorce: A review of research in the eighties. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 52, 904–912.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Wolfers, J. (2006). Did unilateral divorce laws raise divorce rates? A reconciliation and new results. The American Economic Review, 96, 1802–1820.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. World Values Survey Association. (1981). World Values Survey 1981–1984 (Official data file v.20090906). Madrid, Spain: ASEP/JDS [producer]. Retrieved from http://www.worldvaluessurvey.org
  71. World Values Survey Association. (1990). World Values Survey 1989–1993 (Official data file v.20090906). Madrid, Spain: ASEP/JDS [producer]. Retrieved from http://www.worldvaluessurvey.org
  72. World Values Survey Association. (1995). World Values Survey 1994–1999 (Official data file v.3). Madrid, Spain: ASEP/JDS [producer]. Retrieved from http://www.worldvaluessurvey.org
  73. World Values Survey Association. (2000). World Values Survey 1999–2004 (Official data file v.20090914). Madrid, Spain: ASEP/JDS [producer]. Retrieved from http://www.worldvaluessurvey.org

Copyright information

© Population Association of America 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Delia Furtado
    • 1
  • Miriam Marcén
    • 2
  • Almudena Sevilla
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of EconomicsUniversity of ConnecticutStorrsUSA
  2. 2.Departamento de Análisis Económico, Facultad de Economía y EmpresaUniversidad de ZaragozaZaragozaSpain
  3. 3.School of Business and ManagementQueen Mary, University of LondonLondonUK

Personalised recommendations