Does Divorce Risk in Sweden depend on Spouses' Relative Income? A Study of Marriages from 1981 to 1998


  • Guiping Liu Centre for Youth & Society, Department of Psychology, University of Victoria, Victoria British Columbia
  • Andres Vikat Population Activities Unit, United Nation Economic Commission for Europe, Geneva Switzerland



The relationship between increasing women’s earnings and rising divorce rates frequently has been explained by the so-called independence effect: If a wife enjoys a higher earning than her husband does, she gains less from marriage. It has also been argued that in a society with egalitarian gender attitudes this effect is less important. In this paper, we test if the independence effect applies to Sweden, a country in which egalitarian gender views dominate and female labour-force participation and divorce rates are high. Our analysis is based on a large register data set and intensity regression models. We found support for the ‘independence effect’: The relationship between the share of a wife’s income and the divorce risk is positive regardless of the couple’s total income and the wife’s education level.