Global Trends in Marital Instability from 1970 to Present

Misty Heggeness, University of Minnesota

Using newly developed integrated census microdata from Integrated Public Use Microdata Series--International, this paper analyzes global trends in marital instability from 1970 to the present. While the proportion of divorced adults ages 25 to 39 is on the rise in most countries, the proportion who are separated but remain legally married has increased more slowly. Additionally, developed countries experience higher, more rapidly increasing divorce rates than many developing countries. Many factors play a role in a couple's decision to remain separated but legally married, including cultural and social norms and economic opportunities for both sexes to name a few. This paper, following the methodology of Ruggles (1997), analyzes multiple countries over time and identifies factors associated with the probability of being separated or divorced. Preliminary results suggest that while local economic opportunity and local labor market participation rates are associated with the probability of being divorced, the same is not true for separation.

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Presented in Session 90: Global Changes in Marriage and Family