Traditional Lifestyles Protect Against Parental Divorce: Effects of Religion, Ethnicity, Rurality and Mother's Employment in Australia in the 20th Century
M. D. R. Evans
University of Nevada, Reno - Departments of Resource Economics and Sociology
International Survey Center; University of Nevada Reno - Department of Sociology
January 16, 2009
International Journal of Sociology of the Family, Forthcoming
This paper examines the sources of parental divorce in Australia using respondents' retrospective reports of their parents' behavior, which allows us to look back as far as the early years of the 20th century. The data are from a pooled series of representative national samples of Australia conducted between 1984 and 2002 (N=19,601 valid cases for this analysis), which we analyze using probit regression models. Replicating prior research, we find that rural parents and Mediterranean immigrant parents have more stable marriages. Taking into account further traditionalism measures - church attendance and maternal employment - substantially expands our knowledge and changes our understanding of the already established effects. Parents who are faithful church-goers have much more stable marriages, even net of many other influences. By contrast, religious denomination does not have significant effects, nor do education, occupation, or income. Maternal employment increases the risk of divorce. It also reduces the previously established rurality effect to insignificance, suggesting that it merely reflects lower maternal employment in the countryside. By contrast, the protective effect of Mediterranean origins is actually amplified after adjustment for maternal employment. The effect of maternal employment declined strongly over time, with important implications for understanding the causal direction of the relationship. Even after taking our expanded range of influences into account, there are still substantial effects unmeasured variables represented by a time trend toward increasing divorce.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 29
Keywords: divorce, traditional lifestyles, Australia, woman's labor force participation
JEL Classification: J12, Z10
Date posted: January 17, 2009
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