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A theory of rational marriage and divorce

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  • Barham, Vicky
  • Devlin, Rose Anne
  • Yang, Jie

Abstract

Despite high rates of cohabitation before marriage, and considerable efforts invested in the search for a life partner, a high number of marriages end in divorce. This paper develops a model of household formation and dissolution in which it may be rational for individuals to marry, fully anticipating that they will subsequently divorce. Economies of scale associated with living as a couple rather than in two separate households provide an incentive to marry; problems with free riding in the provision of household collective goods may lead to divorce. Marriages which involve partners who are similar, in tastes or in their productive capacities, and in which private goods are equally shared, are the most likely to be stable. In contrast, marriages which involve very disparate partners, or which share the fruits of market labor very unequally between the partners, are more likely to be shortlived and end in divorce.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal European Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 53 (2009)
Issue (Month): 1 (January)
Pages: 93-106

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Handle: RePEc:eee:eecrev:v:53:y:2009:i:1:p:93-106

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Keywords: Marriage and divorce Marital public goods Intra-household allocation;

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References

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Cited by:
  1. Meier, Volker & Rainer, Helmut, 2012. "On the optimality of joint taxation for noncooperative couples," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(4), pages 633-641.
  2. Hans Fehr & Manuel Kallweit & Fabian Kindermann, 2009. "Marital Risk, Family Insurance, and Public Policy," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 226, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  3. Domenico Tabasso, 2011. "With or Without You: Hazard of Divorce and Intra-household Allocation of Time," Melbourne Institute Working Paper Series wp2011n07, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne.
  4. David de la Croix, 2012. "From Polygamy to Serial Monogamy: a Unified Theory of Marriage Institutions," 2012 Meeting Papers 49, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  5. Domenico Tabasso, 2009. "With or Without You: Time Use Complementarities and Divorce Rate in the US," Economics Discussion Papers 674, University of Essex, Department of Economics.

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