Research

Top jobs lead to divorce for women, but not men

22 Aug 2019 By Maggie Baska

Successful women are more likely to experience marital breakdown than their male counterparts, says study 

Being promoted to a leading role in business or politics can lead to a marked increase in divorce rates for women – but not for men.

A study on the impact of career growth on relationships in Sweden, which was published by the World Economic Forum and the London School of Economics Business Review, discovered a link to a rise in divorce rates for women who enjoy a successful career.

By studying Sweden, the researchers say they can get a sense of the future for other countries that are moving toward more gender-equal labour markets. In the past three decades, Swedish women have surpassed men in their rate of higher education, and labour force participation has reached a similar level between the sexes. 

Johanna Rickne, professor of economics at the Swedish Institute for Social Research at Stockholm University, and Olle Folke, associate professor in the Department of Government at Uppsala University, analysed the relationship trajectories of men and women who went from being an employee to being promoted to the CEO of a firm with at least 100 people between 2002 and 2012. 

They found that after becoming CEO of a company, women began divorcing at a higher rate than men with the same career transition.

Rickne and Folke theorise that the tendency for women to ‘marry up’ means their promotion to a top job could create frictions at home as the economic and status balance a couple is used to changes.

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