Unemployment and separation: Evidence from five European countries
Keywords:Unemployment, divorce, separation, contextual effect, gender, couple, crisis
Since the 1970s, several European countries have experienced high union dissolution risk as well as high unemployment rates. The extent to which adverse economic conditions are associated with union instability is still unknown. This study explores the relationship between both individual and aggregate unemployment and union dissolution risk in five European countries before the recent economic crisis. Using rich longitudinal data from Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, and Italy, the empirical analysis, based on discrete-time event history models, shows that male unemployment consistently increases the risk of union dissolution. While a strong association is observed between male unemployment and separation at the micro level, no association is found between male unemployment and union dissolution at the macro level. The results for female unemployment are mixed, and the size of the impact of female unemployment is smaller in magnitude than that of male unemployment. In Germany and Italy, where until very recently work is less compatible with family life than in other countries, female unemployment is not significantly associated with union dissolution.