Monday, June 26, 2017

Weird Behavioral Science

Harvard sociologist Alexandra Killewald did research reported in the American Sociological Review and summarized at the Intellectual Takeout website. The following are from the latter site.
A core unresolved question is how trends in marital stability relate to changing family and economic circumstances.

Killewald analyzed three different theories (or “perspectives”) on divorce: the financial strain perspective, the economic independence perspective, and the gendered institution perspective.

Surprisingly, no support was found for the economic independence or financial strain perspectives, theories that suggest marriages are more likely to end when the cost of divorce is low or limited financial resources lead to family stress. Killewald did find support for the gendered institution perspective.

For marriages begun in 1975 or later, divorce is more likely when husbands are not employed full-time.

Just as male breadwinning has remained important for marriage formation (Sweeney 2002), the results here demonstrate its enduring importance for marital stability. The results are consistent with claims that bread-winning remains a central component of the marital contract for husbands (Nock 1998).
Gender roles are less flexible than many hope or believe. "Tote that barge, lift that bale" is still the norm for American husbands. Hat tip to Show Boat lyricist Oscar Hammerstein II for six evocative words.