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The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy

Editor-in-Chief: Jürges, Hendrik / Ludwig, Sandra

Ed. by Auriol , Emmanuelle / Brunner, Johann / Fleck, Robert / Mendola, Mariapia / Requate, Till / Schirle, Tammy / de Vries, Frans / Zulehner, Christine

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Do Long Work Hours Contribute to Divorce?

John H. Johnson IV1


Citation Information: Topics in Economic Analysis & Policy. Volume 4, Issue 1, ISSN (Online) 1538-0653, DOI: https://doi.org/10.2202/1538-0653.1118, October 2004

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Despite frequent claims in the popular press that Americans are working longer hours to the detriment of their families, little academic research has directly tested this proposition. I provide new descriptive evidence on the link between work hours of married couples and the likelihood that a couple will get divorced. Using samples of working couples from the Survey of Income and Program Participation, I uncover several key facts: First, the incidence of divorce is much greater when both spouses are working than when only one spouse is employed. Second, the work hours of women are more highly correlated with divorce than are the work hours of men. Finally, despite these robust correlations, it is difficult to attribute a causal effect of work hours to divorce propensity.

Keywords: Divorce; Work Hours

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