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Women work longer when marriages are in trouble, finds study

Women typically work longer hours when they fear that their marriages may be in trouble, according to a new study from the London School of Economics and Political Science.

The researchers found that for every one per cent increase in the risk of a marriage ending, women typically work an extra 12 minutes per week and speculate that they do so in order to increase their options in event of divorce.

Researcher Berkay Özcan said: “We see that women who are at a higher risk of divorce significantly increase how much they work. And it isn’t that women working outside the home are more likely to get divorced. Rather, faced with a rising probability of divorce, women work more, whether they ultimately separate or not. They are working as a form of insurance in case of divorce or in anticipation of it.”

The study analysed the effects of the legalisation of divorce in Ireland in 1996. The researchers compared the working habits of religious and non-religious married women following legalisation and found that the non-religious increased the amount of time they spent at work by approximately 18 per cent. This did not, however decrease the amount of time they spent on childcare or increase the amount of childcare by fathers, explained Dr Özcan.

“Women who have secured their outside options, in case of divorce, may have done so, at least in the short run, at the expense of their leisure time and potentially their well-being.”

Following legalisation, non-religious women were 34 per cent more likely to divorce, compared to their religious counterparts, who became only seven per cent more likely to divorce

According to the study, there is no solid evidence that men work longer hours as their risk of divorce increases.

The study, entitled Female labor supply and divorce: New evidence from Ireland was published in the European Economic Review.

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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