Weathering the storm together: Does unemployment insurance help couples avoid divorce?
2022, Kessler, Dorian, Hevenstone, Debora, Vandecasteele, Leen, Sepahniya, Samin
This study examines whether unemployment insurance benefit generosity impacts divorce, drawing on full population administrative data and a Swiss reform that reduced unemployment insurance maximum benefit duration. We assess the effect of the reform by comparing the pre- to the post-reform change in divorce rates among unemployed individuals who were affected by the reform with the change in divorce rates among a statistically balanced group of unemployed individuals who was not affected by the reform. Difference-indifferences estimates suggest that the reform caused a 2.8 percentage point increase in divorce (a 25% increase). Effects were concentrated among low-income couples (+58%) and couples with an unemployed husband (+32%) though gender differences are attributable to men’s breadwinner status. Female main breadwinners were more strongly affected (+78%) than male main breadwinners (+40%). Results confirm the ‘family stress model’ which posits that job search and financial stress cause marital conflict. Policymakers should consider a broad array of impacts, including divorce, when considering reductions in unemployment insurance generosity