As part of their analysis, researchers found that women initiated 69 percent of all divorces compared to 31 percent for men.
On the other hand where non-marital breakups are concerned, the team noted, women and men are just as likely to end non-marital relationships.
The results support the feminist assertion that some women experience heterosexual marriage as oppressive or uncomfortable.
Wives still take their husbands’ surnames, and are sometimes pressured to do so.
“Husbands still expect their wives to do the bulk of the housework and the bulk of the child care,Â” said study author Michael Rosenfeld, associate professor of sociology at Stanford University.
Social scientists have previously argued that women initiate most divorces because they are more sensitive to relationship difficulties.
Rosenfeld argues that were this true, women would initiate the breakup of both marriages and non-marital relationships at equal rates.
“I think other scholars assumed that women’s role in breakups was an essential attribute of heterosexual relationships. But it turns out that women’s role in initiating breakups is unique to heterosexual marriage,Â” he informed.
In contrast, there was not a statistically significant difference between the percentage of breakups initiated by unmarried women and men, regardless of whether they had been cohabitating with their partners.
Rosenfeld’s analysis relies on data from the 2009-2015 waves of the nationally representative Â“How Couples Meet and Stay TogetherÂ” survey.
He looked at 2,262 adults, ages 19 to 94, who had opposite sex partners in 2009. By 2015, 371 of these people had broken up or were divorced.
“Women seem to have a predominant role in initiating divorces as far back as there is data from a variety of sources, back to the 1940s,” Rosenfeld noted.
On the other hand, Â“non-marital relationships lack the historical baggage and expectations of marriage, which makes the non-marital relationships more flexible and adaptable to modern expectations,Â” the lead researchers contended.
The findings were to be presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association (ASA) in Chicago.