Is there a spill-over effect?
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Is there a spill-over effect? Evidence on the relationship between work history and marriage dissolution from a British birth cohort study. Erzsébet Bukodi Eighth Conference of European Network for the Sociological and Demographic Study of Divorce, 14-16 October, 2010, University of Valencia .

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Is there a spill-over effect? Evidence on the relationship between work history and marriage dissolution from a British birth cohort study

Erzsébet Bukodi

Eighth Conference of European Network for the Sociological and Demographic Study of Divorce, 14-16 October, 2010, University of Valencia

CLS is an ESRC Resource Centre based at the Institute of Education


Motivation

Motivation

  • A substantial literature has by now developed showing the lasting adverse effects on individuals’ work histories of entering the labour market at a time of depressed economic conditions (e.g. Gregg, 2001; Bukodi and Goldthorpe, 2009)

  • Worklife instability has spill-over effects in that members of a cohort with such experience are more likely than members of other cohorts to postpone their first marriages and to choose cohabitation as a preliminary or even an alternative to marriage (Bukodi, 2010)

  • Any spill-over effects of instabilities early in the working life on marital dissolution?


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Objective

  • To investigate whether or not men and women who experienced instabilities of their occupational and employment histories early in their working lives – before their marriages were formed – are more likely than their counterparts without such experience to dissolve their marriages.

  • If so, what might be the most important factors to explain this effect.


Only few empirical studies so far

  • The majority of these studies have been concerned with the effects of unemployment rather than those of detailed occupational and employment trajectories (Starkey, 1996; Jalovaara, 2003; Hansen, 2005; Lampard, 1994; Blekesaune, 2008; Jensen and Smith, 1990).

  • There are only three studies that extend research into the broader socio-economic domain, and investigate changes in couples’ economic circumstances and in husband’s and wives’ work characteristics during the marriage on the risk of marital dissolution (Hoffman and Duncan, 1995; Weiss and Willis, 1997; Boheim and Ermisch, 2001)

Only few empirical studies so far …


Why to expect any effect of work histories before marriage on marital dissolution

Why to expect any effect of work histories before marriage on marital dissolution?

  • The ‘selection hypothesis’:

    • The effect might be the result of selection effects in that unstable employment and occupational histories are tended to be experienced by individuals with characteristics that are also conducive to marriage dissolution (e.g. some individuals might find it rather easy to leave both unhappy partnerships and undesirable jobs).


Why to expect any effect of work histories before marriage on marital dissolution1

Why to expect any effect of work histories before marriage on marital dissolution? ...

  • The ‘experience hypothesis’:

    • The experience of volatile work histories early in the life-course itself affects adversely the quality of marriage and in turn leads to separation.

  • Why?


A potential mediator low level of psychological well being

  • Highly unstable employment and occupational histories early in the working life

  • Failing to establish an ‘occupational identity’ for the future

  • diminished psychological well-being

  • lower level of ‘social skills’

  • an elevated risk of marital dissolution

A potential mediator:low level of psychological well-being


Another potential mediator lack of economic resources

  • Highly unstable employment and occupational histories early in the working life

  • Being unsuccessful in economic capital acquisition in a longer run

  • greater economic strain on couples

  • an elevated risk of marital dissolution

  • Volatile work histories among men are expected to create a greater strain on families (men fail to fulfil the role of the main provider of family economic resources)

Another potential mediator:lack of economic resources


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Another potential mediator:marital heterogamy

  • Highly unstable employment and occupational histories early in the working life

  • Negative assortative mating on economic attributes (e.g. on occupational earnings)

  • having less complementarities between spouses in consumption and leisure preferences

  • the ‘insurance function’ of marriage (against sudden economic shocks) is less apparent

  • worse mutual understanding between spouses

  • an elevated risk of marital dissolution


Data a british birth cohort study

  • The National Child Development Study (NCDS)

    • all children born in GB in one week in 1958

    • 8 main sweeps up to 2008 (age 50)

  • I have created joint partnership-job histories, coded on a person-month basis.

  • In this paper I consider life-course histories up to age 46.

Data: A British Birth Cohort Study


Overview on partnership histories

Overview on partnership histories

First marriage

dissolved

First marriage

dissolved

Living in 1st

marriage

Living in 1st

marriage

Never married,

Living in cohabitation

Never married,

Living in cohabitation

Never lived

in partnership

Never lived

in partnership


The focus of this study is on

  • first marriages formed between ages 16 and 34

  • rates of marriage dissolution in the first 12 years of the partnership, up to age 46

  • the dependent variable is defined as the conditional probability of the dissolution of a first marriage

  • the end of living together is counted, regardless of whether there was an official divorce

  • the risk period starts in the month in which the couple began living together, regardless of whether they started out as married or unmarried

The focus of this study is on ...


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Key explanatory variables:

occupational histories

  • Defined in terms of moving upwards and downwards on an occupational earnings scale (Bukodi-Dex-Goldthorpe, forthcoming), over the period from LM entry and up to month t-1:

    • Stable:an individual has not experienced any occupational mobility up to month t-1 of his life history.

    • Unstable:an individual has experienced either one or more upward occupational moves but no downward move or one or more downward occupational moves but no upward move or only one upward and one downward move up to month t-1.

    • Highly unstable: an individual has experienced either more than one upward and at least one downward moves or more than one downward and at least one upward move up to month t-1.

  • Two sets of occupational history variables:

    • Cumulative occupational histories before the first marriage was formed.

    • Cumulative occupational histories within marriage.


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Key explanatory variables:

employment histories

  • Fraction of the cumulative duration of time spent out of employment between leaving full-time education and month t-1.

  • Fraction of the cumulative duration of time spent in part-time employment between LM entry and month t-1.

  • Two sets of employment history variables:

    • Cumulative employment histories before the first marriage was formed.

    • Cumulative employment histories within marriage.


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    Key explanatory variables:

    recent changes in work characteristics

    • Recent changes in occupational status:

      • Summarises the average month-to-month occupational status change over the past 12 months; positive values indicate upward mobility and negative values indicate downward mobility.

    • Recent changes in employment status:

      • The amount of time spent in non-employment (part-time employment) over the past 12 months.

    • Current occupational earnings level:

      • The level of the current or most recent job, expressed in terms of five broad levels of occupational earnings scores, each covering approximately 20 per cent of the total distribution of scores.


    Control variables

    • Age at marriage

    • Cohabitation experience before marriage

    • Number of children fathered/mothered both before and within marriage

    • Educational attainment

    • Cognitive ability in childhood

    • A score for academic motivation in childhood

    • Scores for personality characteristics in childhood – two factors: scores on ‘aggressive’ and ‘withdrawn’ scales

    • A dummy for parents’ had divorced

    • Duration-year dummies

    Control variables


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    Results: the effects of work histories

    on marital dissolution

    Models include all control variables.

    Robust standard errors are applied.

    ** Significant at p < 0.01;

    * significant at p < 0.05;

    # significant at p < 0.10


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    Adverse effects of early occupational histories:

    Any changes over marital duration?

    Predicted probabilities of marital dissolution by occupational histories and marital duration

    MEN

    WOMEN

    Predicted probabilities are calculated from Model 2. Models also include occupational history*marital duration interactions.

    Other covariates evaluated at sample means.


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    Towards an explanation of the effects of occupational histories before marriage:

    Any selection effect?

    Heckman two-stage estimation procedure:

    Robustness check:

    An instrumental variable probit model, using the conditional recursive mixed process estimator ('cmp' ):


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    Why are men who experienced volatile

    occupational careers early in their working lives are more likely to terminate their marriages?

    • Variables on the three potential mediators come from the age-33 sweep of NCDS:

      • psychological well-being at age 33:

        • the Malaise Inventory: 24-item battery of questions designed to identify individuals at high risk of depression

        • principal component analysis is applied: five components have been extracted

      • economic resources at age 33:

        • a 8-point composite index has been constructed using variables on housing conditions and savings/investments

      • marital heterogamy at age 33:

        • a three-fold variable has been constructed for capturing different combinations of men’s own and their wives’ occupational earnings


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    The focus of this part of the study is on ...

    • men only

    • first marriages formed between ages 16 and 32

    • rates of marriage dissolution between ages 34 and 46, regardless of the length of the partnership

    • event-history analyses that are equivalent to those reported before are performed


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    The effects of the potential mediators


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    Conclusions (1)

    • Men who experience greater instabilities in their occupational careers early in the working life have high risk of marital dissolution, even if they later achieve relatively advantaged occupational positions.

    • The disruptive impact of unstable occupational careers before the marriage was formed is not unique to the early stage of men’s partnerships, but it is apparent at all marital durations.

    • In case of women, the adverse effect of occupational instabilities before the marriage was formed is also visible but less marked.


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    Conclusions (2)

    • The bias introduced by the selectivity of unstable occupational histories before the marriage was formed has a significant and substantial influence on marital dissolution in case of women, but not for men.

    • Further analyses indicate that violent and aggressive behaviour in men and men’s failure of accumulating economic resources appear to be the most important factors in explaining why volatile occupational histories early in their working lives are associated with a heightened risk of marital separation.


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    Conclusions (3)

    • Are the adverse effects of volatile work histories early in the life-course visible for other cohorts as well?

    • Preliminary analyses, using the 1970 British birth cohort data, suggest that men with highly unstable occupational histories early in their working lives are more likely to dissolve their marriages in the first 5 years of their partnerships, even if they later achieve relatively advantaged occupational positions.

    • But the effect is weaker than in the 1958 cohort, implying a ‘permanent scar’ on the life-course of cohorts that members’ early careers were ‘hit’ by economic recession


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    Appendix (1)


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    Appendix (2)


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