The working paper, which was funded by the National Bureau of Economic Research, analyzes the changing status of women between 1935 and 1970, a time when America's culture and economy changed significantly in just a few decades. When divorce rates began to rise in the 1960s, partially because of the women's liberation movement and strides toward gender equality, many women found themselves without a support system, without work experience, and without the proper education to secure a job. At the same time, many needed to support their children after sometimes unfair divorce settlements.
The result? Fernandez and Wong found that these divorces encouraged (and sometimes required) women to return to school and enter the workforce. However, some things still haven't changed since 1955: many women, especially those with the least education, can still expect to face some economic hardship after a divorce.