Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Thomas Nowak, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Alex Heckert, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Kay Snyder, Ph.D.


During the 1960s, 1970s, and early 1980s, the significant rise in divorce and separation in the United States has caught the attention of scholars, particularly because it coincided with increasing women's labor participation in the workplace. In spite of considerable research on the subject, the research findings on the impact of economic resources on marital dissolution have shown mixed results. One important characteristic of economic resources is the fluctuation in the relative contribution of husbands and wives to household income. Nonetheless, there are no studies in the literature on marital dissolution which have addressed the impact of the income ratio fluctuation on divorce. In this sense, my dissertation is the first attempt to study this phenomenon. In order to model the instability of the income ratio of husbands and wives, I built an algorithm based on the Theory of Combinations, since linear and curvilinear models (e.g., Ordinal Least Squares Model, Latent Growth Curve Model, and Structural Equation Model) are inadequate to model erratic fluctuations. Once the algorithm was completed, the results were fed into a Logistic Regression Model to test the impact of the income ratio fluctuation on the odds of divorce. My dissertation encompassed 30 years of data (1968 to 1997), and I found statistically significant results for the late 1970s and the 1980s. Nonetheless, the results were not statistically significant for the early 1970s and the early 1990s. The late 1970s and the 1980s coincided with the worst economic recession in the United States since the Great Depression--with high inflation, high unemployment rate and negative economic growth. It can be argued, therefore, that the instability of the income ratio of husbands and wives becomes a stressor of divorce during economic recession periods. Further research needs to be carried out to test the impact of macroeconomic variables on the impact of income ratio fluctuation on the odds of divorce.