Global Trends in Marital Instability from 1970 to the Present: Do Economic Opportunity and Economic Development Matter?

Misty L Heggeness

Research output: ThesisMaster's Thesis


Using newly developed integrated census microdata from IPUMS-International, this paper is the first empirical analysis of global trends in marital instability from 1970 to the present. Following the methodology of Ruggles (1997), factors associated with the probability of being separated or divorced are identified for multiple countries over time. The findings provide evidence for Beckers (1981) role specialization theory by showing that an increase in local area married female labor force participation rates is associate with an increase in marital instability. This paper finds no evidence of Oppenheimers (1994) argument that marital instability is driven by a lack of male economic opportunity. Local area married mens labor force participation rates are not associated with marital instability. Additionally, the paper finds that education and local economic development are relevant factors. Those with less than a high school education are more likely to be separated and less likely to be divorced than those with the equivalent of a high school education, and higher development in a local geographic area is associated with an increase in both divorce and separation.
Original languageEnglish (US)
QualificationMaster of Science
Awarding Institution
  • University of Minnesota Twin Cities
Date of AwardMay 15 2002
Place of PublicationMinneapolis, MN
StatePublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes


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