Why promoted women are more likely to divorce?
Getting a top job dramatically increases women’s chances of divorce, even in egalitarian countries. Why isn’t it the same for men?
Having a successful and enjoyable career alongside a fulfilling romantic relationship is a life goal for many of us. But even in the most gender-equal countries, finding a partnership that lasts is trickier for high-flying women than men.
In Sweden, which ranks first in the EU’s gender equality index thanks to factors like generous parental leave, subsidised daycare and flexible working arrangements, economists recently studied how promotions to top jobs affected the probability of divorce for each gender. The result: women were much more likely to pay a higher personal price for their career success.
“Promotion to a top job in politics increases the divorce rate of women but not for men, and women who become CEOs divorce faster than men who become CEOs,” summarises Johanna Rickne, a professor at Stockholm University and co-author of the research, which was published earlier this month in American Economic Journal.
The paper, which looked at the lives of heterosexual men and women working for private companies with 100 or more employees, found that married women were twice as likely to be divorced three years after their promotion to CEO level compared to their male counterparts. In the public sector, using three decades’ worth of records, women mayors and parliamentarians promoted after an election doubled their chances of splitting from their partners; 75% were still married eight years after the vote compared with 85% of those who didn’t get promoted, while there was no evidence of a similar effect for men. Female medical doctors, police officers and priests who progressed in their careers also followed the trend.
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