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With or Without You: Time Use Complementarities and Divorce Rate in the US

Authors
Disciplines
  • Mathematics

Abstract

In the last twenty years the divorce rate in the United States has being decreasing, differentiating the US trend from those of most Western countries. In this paper I explore the possibility to study this phenomenon by relating the patterns in the divorce rates to the role played by �time use complementarities� within the household. The changes in time consumption of couples in the last forty years are used as proxies for the changes in consumption habits and are analyzed through the American Time Use Data. The relation between time management and the likelihood of divorce is then studied making use of several datasets from the National Longitudinal Study, covering the period 1967-2004. The results show the emergence of relevant differences in the way American couples shape their time together during the last four decades. Spouses devote more time to joint leisure activities, while togetherness does not relate anymore to household chores and childcare. Furthermore the link between the way partners share household responsibilities and the hazard rate of divorce tends to vanish over time, suggesting a reduction in production complementarities as a deciding factor in the success of marriages.

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