How Working Wives Affect Families' Migration and Divorce Decisions

by Mark D. Menchik, Christina Witsberger

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This study investigates whether wives' employment (and the level and stability of their earnings) influences family decisions on long-distance migration, and whether those decisions are related to the concurrent breakup of a marriage. This research addresses the following questions: Is the two-earner family less likely to migrate than an otherwise identical male-earner-only family? Is marital dissolution more likely when two-earner families migrate than when they do not? Is marital dissolution more likely when a two-earner family migrates than when a similar family, with only a male earner, migrates? Using longitudinal data from 1969 to 1974, the authors find that the presence of a working wife does not always inhibit migration and that the effect varies by the length of the marriage. Another key finding is that two-earner families who have the lowest migration rates are generally subject to the highest risk of migration — associated marital dissolution.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Note series. The note was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1979 to 1993 that reported other outputs of sponsored research for general distribution.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.