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Why Divorce Laws Matter: Incentives for Noncontractible Marital Investments under Unilateral and Consent Divorce

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  • Abraham L. Wickelgren
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    Abstract

    The Coase Theorem suggests that married couples will divorce if and only if doing so increases their joint surplus, regardless of the legal rules governing divorce. This does not mean, however, that divorce laws only affect the distribution of rents. Because the distribution of rents affects each spouse's incentives for noncontractible investments, divorce laws can affect the joint welfare of the couple. This article analyzes the effects of the consent divorce regime and the unilateral divorce regime on incentives for selfish and cooperative marital investments. Using these results, the article demonstrates how endogenous choice of marriage with noncontractible investments can explain some recent empirical results concerning the effects of the shift from consent divorce to unilateral divorce. (JEL C78, D1, D23, J12, J18, K3, K36) The Author 2007. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Yale University. All rights reserved. For permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oxfordjournals.org, Oxford University Press.

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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1093/jleo/ewm050
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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Oxford University Press in its journal The Journal of Law, Economics, & Organization.

    Volume (Year): 25 (2009)
    Issue (Month): 1 (May)
    Pages: 80-106

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    Handle: RePEc:oup:jleorg:v:25:y:2009:i:1:p:80-106

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    Cited by:
    1. Langlais, Eric, 2009. "On unilateral divorce and the "selection of marriages" hypothesis," MPRA Paper 14368, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Alessandro Cigno, 2013. "Is Marriage as Good as a Contract?," CESifo Working Paper Series 4555, CESifo Group Munich.
    3. Marion Leturcq, 2009. "Would you civil union me? Civil unions and taxes in France: Did the reform of income taxation raise the rate of civil unions?," Working Papers halshs-00566846, HAL.
    4. Marion Leturcq, 2011. "Would you civil union me?," Working Papers halshs-00628642, HAL.
    5. Hiller, Victor & Recoules, Magali, 2013. "Changes in divorce patterns: Culture and the law," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(C), pages 77-87.
    6. J. Gimenez-Nadal & Jose Molina, 2013. "Parents’ education as a determinant of educational childcare time," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 26(2), pages 719-749, April.

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