Posted on Jun 01, 2012

For decades, researchers have pondered why Americans tend to work longer hours than their European counterparts – and whether it was more than culture keeping U.S. employees from taking more vacation days or spending less time in the office. Now, a new study has found that the higher possibility of divorce and the larger lack of financial security may keep women working harder and longer on American soil. This means that the higher divorce rate in the U.S. directly affects the bigger focus on career.


The research, conducted by three European economists and published by VoxEU, found that the reason that men and women in America work longer hours differs between the sexes. While U.S. men are encouraged to work harder and longer because of lower tax rates on labor, U.S. women work harder and longer so that they can secure financial independence separate from their families. The reason? Divorce is a bigger threat than it is across the pond. Very simply, American women with careers also have insurance against hard financial times in the event of a divorce. Because such a large percentage of marriages end in divorce in the U.S., women benefit from having a job, making an income and having an incentive to work hard whether or not their husband makes enough to support their family.


Is it worth it for women to obtain work experience and hold down a serious job, if in part to ensure that they can take care of themselves at any time? Apparently, many women living in the United States think so.

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Molly B. Kenny
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Divorce and Child Custody Attorney Serving Bellevue and Seattle Washington