Cross-Regional Divorce Risks in Belgium: Culture or Legislative System
Title: Cross-Regional Divorce Risks in Belgium: Culture or Legislative System
Citation: Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, 2009, 50, 8, 541-563
Cross-national research is by definition carried out between different countries. Looking at country differences often results in common and diverse sets of divorce risks. This article uses a cross-national research perspective on divorce risks within a single country. Belgium is a special case in this respect. The division of the country in two regions with a different language and a quite different historical background often frightens researchers to include the country in large-scale international comparisons. We argue that Belgium is an interesting test case in international perspective since it combines—in a quasi-experimental setting—two important explanatory conditions for divorce risks on the macro level. First, Belgium is a unitary country with a single social security system, similar labor market characteristics, and a single family policy. Second, whereas the institutions between the northern and the southern part are similar, Belgium is culturally divided in a rather Catholic northern part (Flanders) and a secular southern part (Wallonia). This division is often referred to as a northern (Scandinavian) and a southern (Spain, Italy) cultural pattern. This means that when studying divorce patterns, we have the opportunity to examine the net effect of cultural determinants because of the similar feature of the institutional setting of both the Walloon and the Flemish part of the country.
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