Nonstandard Work and Marital Instability: Evidence From the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth


  • Institute for Children and Poverty, 44 Cooper Square, 4th floor, New York, NY, 10003 (

  • Center for Law and Social Policy, 1015 15th Street NW, Suite 400, Washington, DC, 20005 (

  • This article was edited by Cheryl Buehler.

Harris School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago, 1155 East 60th St., Chicago, IL, 60637 (


This article replicated and extended Harriet Presser's (2000) investigation of the linkages between nonstandard work and marital instability. We reexplored this question using data from a sample of 2,893 newlywed couples from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY) and using different analytic techniques. In contrast to Presser, we found that the key dimension of husbands' and wives' employment was nonemployment. Similar to Presser, we found that wives' working of fixed night shifts increased the risk of divorce, driven by the experience in marriages over 5 years in duration. However, we did not replicate Presser's finding that the effect is significant only among households with children; rather, wives' fixed night shifts were associated with divorce only among those without children.