Skip to main content

Unemployment and marital dissolution


This paper analyses the effects of unemployment on the probability of marital dissolution. Based on panel data for a sample of Danish married couples, we estimate a dynamic model for the probability of marital dissolution where we take into account the possible effects of unemployment for both spouses. We also control for other factors such as education, age, presence of children, place of residence, health and economic factors. The empirical results show that unemployment seems to be an important factor behind marital instability. However, only unemployment of the husband has an effect, and this effect is immediate.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.


  • Becker GS (1981) A treatise on the family. Harvard University Press, Cambridge

    Google Scholar 

  • Becker GS, Landes EM, Michael RT (1977) An economic analysis of marital instability. J Polit Econ 85:1141–1187

    Google Scholar 

  • Christoffersen MN (1987) Familien under forandring? Socialforskningsinstituttet, Publikation no 168, Copenhagen (in Danish) Hartmann PH (1988) Explaining regional variation of the 1982 divorce rate: results of a study based on West German data. Mimeo, Mannheim

  • Haurin DR (1989) Women's labor market reactions to family disruptions. Rev Econ Statist 71:54–61

    Google Scholar 

  • Johnson WR, Skinner J (1986) Labor supply and marital separation. Am Econ Rev 76:455–469

    Google Scholar 

  • Johnson WE, Skinner J (1988) Accounting for changes in the labor supply of recently divorced women. J Hum Resourc 23:417–436

    Google Scholar 

  • Lehrer E (1988) Determinants of marital instability: a Cox-regression model. Appl Econ 20:195–210

    Google Scholar 

  • Lommerud KE (1989) Marital division of labour with risk of divorce: the role of ‘voice’ enforcement of contracts. J Labor Econ 7:113–127

    Google Scholar 

  • Peters HE (1988) Retrospective versus panel data in analyzing lifecycle events. J Hum Resourc 23:488–513

    Google Scholar 

  • Weiss Y, Willis RJ (1985) Children as collective goods and divorce settlements. J Labor Econ 3:268–292

    Google Scholar 

  • Westergård-Nielsen N (1984) A Danish longitudinal data base. In: Neumann GR, Westergård-Nielsen N (eds) Studies in labor market dynamics. Springer, Berlin Heidelberg New York, pp 267–285

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Additional information

We thank two anonymous referees for their helpful comments on an earlier draft.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Jensen, P., Smith, N. Unemployment and marital dissolution. J Popul Econ 3, 215–229 (1990).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


  • Empirical Result
  • Panel Data
  • Economic Factor
  • Paper Analysis
  • Married Couple