Spousal characteristics and divorce risk: gender and family changes in contemporary Taiwan, 1998-2013

Yen-Hsin Alice Cheng, Academia Sinica

Using linked marriage and divorce registration data files for the years from 1998 to 2013, this study analyzed the divorce patterns within 5 years among the 138,378 marriages formed in 1998 and 144,231 marriages formed in 2008. The main inquiry is how spousal characteristics jointly affect divorce risk for couples who married in 1998 and 2008. Over a span of one decade, the findings reveal that age homogamy and educational hypergamy have become less prone to divorce. For instance, the relative risk for all four kinds of age heterogamous marriages (either older husband or older wives) has increased for the 2008 marriage cohort when compared to the 1998 cohort. In addition, educational hypogamy and homogamy have become more fragile than hypergamy for the 2008 than for the 1998 marriage cohort. In particular, extreme educational hypogamous marriages where the wife is better educated than the husband for 3 levels have become substantially more likely to dissolve for the 2008 marriage cohort. The relative higher divorce risk of marriages that involve at least one previously married individual, when compared to first marriages, has declined over this one-decade period. These findings suggest that although women have been gaining ground in educational and occupational sphere, non-traditional assortative mating patterns (older or better-educated wives) still pose threat to the stability of a marital union. This is one of the few studies that show the rapidly changing family patterns in an East Asian advanced economy, and the findings can be illuminating for understanding the future development of family in the larger Asian region.

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Presented in Session 79: Divorce and union dissolution 2