Marriage Duration and Divorce: The Seven-Year Itch or a Lifelong Itch?

Hill Kulu*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    23 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Previous studies have shown that the risk of divorce is low during the first months of marriage; it then increases, reaches a maximum, and thereafter begins to decline. Some researchers consider this pattern consistent with the notion of a "seven-year itch," while others argue that the rising-falling pattern of divorce risk is a consequence of misspecification of longitudinal models because of omitted covariates or unobserved heterogeneity. The aim of this study is to investigate the causes of the rising-falling pattern of divorce risk. Using register data from Finland and applying multilevel hazard models, the analysis supports the rising-falling pattern of divorce by marriage duration: the risk of marital dissolution increases, reaches its peak, and then gradually declines. This pattern persists when I control for the sociodemographic characteristics of women and their partners. The inclusion of unobserved heterogeneity in the model leads to some changes in the shape of the baseline risk; however, the rising-falling pattern of the divorce risk persists.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)881-893
    Number of pages13
    JournalDemography
    Volume51
    Issue number3
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2014

    Keywords

    • Divorce
    • Marriage
    • Multilevel hazard models
    • Finland
    • PREMARITAL COHABITATION
    • MARITAL DISSOLUTION
    • HETEROGENEITY
    • TRENDS
    • RISK
    • POPULATION
    • FERTILITY
    • SELECTION
    • DYNAMICS
    • SWEDEN

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