Married couples are less likely to divorce if husbands help more with housework, shopping and childcare after the birth of their first child, research suggests.
Economists have previously argued that rising divorce rates, which began in the early 1960s, were linked to steady increases in the numbers of married women working. It was claimed marriages where men took responsibility for paid work and women stayed at home left both spouses better off.
But a study of 3,500 British couples explodes the theory that marriages are most stable when men focus on paid work and women are responsible for housework.
It showed instead that a father's contribution to housework and childcare stabilised a marriage, regardless of the mother's employment status.
Dr Sigle-Rushton, a lecturer in social policy at the London School of Economics, said: "Economists have... paid very little attention to the behaviour of men.
"This research addresses that oversight and suggests that fathers' contribution to unpaid work at home stabilises marriage regardless of mothers' employment status."