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Popul Stud (Camb). 2005 Jul;59(2):211-31.

Has the reciprocal relationship between employment and marriage changed for men? An analysis of the life histories of men born in The Netherlands between 1930 and 1970.

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  • 1Department of Social Cultural Sciences, Tilburg University, The Netherlands.


The study presented here analyses the reciprocal relationship for men between employment career and union formation and examines whether this relationship changed across twentieth-century birth cohorts. Competing hypotheses about trends are described, using notions of role-specialization, spouse support, and uncertainty. The study is based on an investigation of the life histories of 2,795 men in the Netherlands who were born between the 1930s and the 1960s, and confirms earlier findings by showing that employment fosters marriage while marriage protects men from becoming unemployed. There is also a relationship between employment and cohabitation but it is weaker in both directions. However, the relationship between marriage or cohabitation and occupational mobility is less clear, suggesting that the economic benefits of marriage cannot be generalized to the occupational domain. Although it is commonly believed that the link for men between career and marriage has weakened over time, our comparison of birth cohorts shows that in fact this is not the case.

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