Higher divorce risk when mates are plentiful: Evidence from Denmark
Abstract: Work from social and biological sciences have shown that adult sex ratios are associated with relationship behaviours. When partners are abundant, opportunities for mate switching may increase and relationship stability decrease. To date, most of the human literature has used regional areas at various levels of aggregation to define partner markets. But in developed countries many individuals of reproductive age spend a considerable amount of time outside their residential areas, and other measures may better capture the opportunities to meet a (new) partner. Here we use Danish register data to test whether the sex ratio of the occupational sector is linked to divorce. Our data cover individuals in Denmark who married 1981-2002 and we control for age at and duration of marriage, education and parity. Results support the prediction that a higher proportion of opposite sex individuals in one’s occupational sector is associated with higher divorce risk. This holds for both men and women, but associations are somewhat stronger for men. Our results highlight the need to study demographic behaviours of men and women simultaneously, and to consider partner markets beyond geographical areas so that differing strategies for males and females may be examined.