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Guideline for family problems / RESOLVING: 3.1 Generate income

Interventions and evidence explained

Most plausible interventions explained

During the orientation process of the available literature, we were able to identify the following interventions:
– Active measures [with the goal to generate more income]:
– Generate more working hours
– Self-employment
– Migration to areas with better employment opportunities
– Other [passive] measures:
– Applying for and receiving public assistance
– Remarrying
– Cutting back on expenditures

Financial resources are an important factor in the adaptations families make. Families save up in good times, and spend savings or borrow in bad. Families who do not have such savings, will not be able to do this (Yuen & Hofferth, p. 7). The analysis done by Yuen and Hofferth distinguishes between active measures (e.g. migration and increasing partner’s work effort) and other measures (e.g. relying on public assistance) (Yuen & Hofferth, p. 7 and 25). Families with substantial income and assets and those who live in low unemployment areas tend to take active measures, whereas families with little resources or in high unemployment areas are likely to rely on public assistance, remarriage or cutting back on expenditures (Yuen & Hofferth, p. 25). For purpose of the PICO question, we compare active (which generate more income) and passive measures, as the available literature makes, a distinction between these two strategies in overcoming post-divorce financial distress.

Selected interventions for comparison (defined as a PICO question)

For families, is taking active measures with the goal of generating more income more effective than taking passive measures, for their financial well-being?

Search strategy

The databases used are: HeinOnline, Westlaw, Wiley Online Library, JSTOR and Taylor & Francis.

For this PICO question, keywords used in the search strategy are: divorce, income, increase, decrease, financial, economic, income generating activities, financial adjustment, financial distress.

Assessment and grading of evidence

The main sources of evidence used for this particular subject are:

Quality of evidence and research gap

These sources are largely based on empirical studies. Evidence can be regarded as being low.

Desirable outcomes of the interventions

One of the indicators to measure gender equality and women’s empowerment is the increase of women’s share of wage employment (Kabeer, p. 1). Paid work has the potential to shift the balance of power within the family. It also leads to a long-term reduction in domestic violence, as well as an increase in women’s assets (Kabeer, p. 18). In some cases, women’s participation in wage employment has allowed them to have greater economic independence and even to escape abusive marriages (Kabeer, p. 19). Geographic migration has been viewed as a means of improving the allocation of human resources (Yueng & Hofferth, p. 5-6).

Undesirable outcomes of the intervention

Seeking public assistance is stigmatizing and is seen as only a short term-option (Yueng & Hofferth, p. 24). When it comes to cutting back on expenditures, cutting food expenditures points to the possibility of deteriorating living conditions that may threaten the survival of family members. (Yueng & Hofferth, p. 24). Operating within a social setting unfriendly to women will be challenging due to, for example, pervasive violence. Women might encounter difficulties in running a door-to-door business in a country where no one opens the door out of fear. Moreover, women moving about to make sales, deliver products and meet teams are easy targets for such predators (Scott. et al., p. 562). Migration to an area of better employment opportunities may weaken the family’s support network and detract from children’s school progress (Yueng & Hofferth, p. 24).

Balance of Outcomes

In determining whether taking active measures with the goal of generating more income is more effective than taking passive measures, for the financial well-being of persons, the desirable and undesirable outcomes of both interventions must be considered. An analysis of the outcomes shows a lack of consensus regarding which measure works. Research shows difficulties with using these strategies particularly due to national contexts. A suitable option is arguably exploring active measures because of efforts by divorced spouses to become self-supporting and self-sufficient.


Taking into account the balance towards the desired outcomes and the strength of the evidence, we make the following recommendation: Taking active measures to generate more income is more effective than taking passive measures for the well-being of families.

Table of Contents

3. Recommendations on RESOLVING
3.1 Generate income