Political economy of family life: welfare regimes, economic resources and divorce

Haya Stier, Tel Aviv University
Amit Kaplan, Tel Aviv University

This research centers on the institutional arrangements that impinge on the ties between wage labor and family life in late capitalism. The study's purpose is to probe how institutional welfare arrangements shape the linkages between different aspects of wage labor and family behavior. Specifically, this study focuses on the effect of couples' relative and absolute income on divorce in four institutional contexts. In recent decades a rich academic discussion has taken place on the association between paid work and family behavior. The assumption common to the diverse theoretical perspectives concerned with it is that economic resources, especially the rise in women's participation in the labor market, affect family behaviors such as divorce, marriage and childbirth. Along with the far-reaching theoretical discussion, the association has been researched empirically in different countries, yielding a variety of findings. Most of the existing theoretical and empirical discussion is situated on the micro level, and is not sensitive to the socio-political context in which the couple's mutual dependency relations are materially designed. By contrast, the present research argues that the links between economy and family on the micro level are largely shaped by institutional welfare arrangements among market, state, and family, established through a specific historical process and accompanied by struggles between conflicting interest groups.

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Presented in Poster Session 1