Divorce in a Globalizing Era: National and Global Influence, 1960-2012

Cheng-Tong Lir Wang, University of California, Irvine

Previous cross-national analysis on divorce patterns mainly uses cross-sectional data to examine national dynamics, such as socioeconomic development, status of women, and religious doctrine. Recent globalization scholarship, such as Thornton’s “developmental idealism,” emphasizes the global influence on families. Specifically, “world society” (including inter-governmental organizations, international NGOs, and a myriad of international treaties) establishes actions plans addressing family issues, such as fertility and child marriage. Underlying the projects are norms that prioritizing individual freedom and gender equality to make marital decisions, including marriage dissolution. This research uses panel data of 83 countries between 1960 and 2012 to assess both the national and global forces shaping national divorce patterns. In addition to the effects of several national dynamics, my analysis finds that divorce rate increases when countries subscribe more intensely to the global norm of sublimating individual’s will in marital decisions. The findings remind researchers take seriously the supra-national influence.

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Presented in Poster Session 1: Marriage, Unions, Families, and Households