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Marital Discord and Subsequent Divorce: Perceptions of Both Wives and their Husbands

Archived Abstract of Former PSC Researcher

Download PDF versionJennings, Elyse Ann. 2012. "Marital Discord and Subsequent Divorce: Perceptions of Both Wives and their Husbands." PSC Research Report No. 12-760. June 2012.

We know little about what causes divorce in contexts outside of the West. This paper focuses on marital dissolution in a rural, agrarian context of Nepal that has recently experienced a great deal of social change. Marriage in this context is highly valued, with far-reaching significance for not only the husband and wife but also for their extended families. Marital dissolutions due to separation or divorce have been very rare until the recent past. Furthermore, women have few opportunities to be independent, and therefore have disincentive to dissolve their marriages. I explore the factors influencing marital dissolution in this South Asian setting, comparing these factors to Western influences on divorce. I then focus on the influence of marital discord, using unique, couple-level data with measures of three types of discord (disagreements, criticisms, and abuse), as self-reported by each spouse. Results reveal that (1) many of the factors that influence marital dissolution in Western contexts play a similar role in this context, (2) wives' reports of discord have an important influence on the odds of marital dissolution across types of discord, while husbands reports of disagreements, only, have a significant influence, and (3) the influence of wives' reports of discord is independent of their husbands' reports of the same.

Country of focus: Nepal.

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