Women more likely to initiate divorce
A new study has shown that women are more likely to initiate divorce than men, but no such discrepancy exists in non-marital breakups.
Previously, the only research in this area was on divorce, and hadn’t yet taken non-marital breakups into account. It is now apparent that women and men are just as likely as each other to end non-marital relationships.
The study, presented at the American Sociological Association, was based on six years of data from over 2,000 adults aged 19-64, all of whom had had a heterosexual partner in 2009. By 2015, 371 of these people had broken up.
In cases where the couples had been married, the results showed that 69% of divorces were initiated by women and 31% by men. In couples that hadn’t been married – whether or not they lived together – there wasn’t a significant difference between breakups initiated by women or men.
Interestingly, married women tend to report lower levels of relationship satisfaction than married men, but this discrepancy isn’t apparent in unmarried couples.
It had previously been thought that most breakups were initiated by women because women are more subject to relationship difficulties. This may now need to be reconsidered.
Michael Rosenfeld, a sociology professor at Stanford University, and author of the study, said:
“I think that marriage as an institution has been a little bit slow to catch up with expectations for gender equality… Wives still take their husbands’ surnames, and are sometimes pressured to do so. Husbands still expect their wives to do the bulk of the housework and the bulk of the childcare.
“On the other hand, I think that non-marital relationships lack the historical baggage and expectations of marriage, which makes the non-marital relationships more flexible and therefore more adaptable to modern expectations, including women’s expectations for more gender equality.”