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The Effect of Marital Breakup on the Income Distribution of Women with Children

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  • Elizabeth O. Ananat
  • Guy Michaels

Abstract

Having a female first-born child significantly increases the probability that a woman’s first marriage breaks up. Using this exogenous variation, recent work finds that divorce has little effect on women’s mean household income. We further investigate the effect of divorce using Quantile Treatment Effect methodology and find that it increases women’s odds of having very high or very low income. In other words, while some women successfully compensate for lost spousal earnings through child support, welfare, combining households, and increasing labor supply, others are markedly unsuccessful. We conclude that by raising both poverty and inequality, divorce has important welfare consequences.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by University of Wisconsin Press in its journal Journal of Human Resources.

Volume (Year): 43 (2008)
Issue (Month): 3 ()
Pages: 611-629

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Handle: RePEc:uwp:jhriss:v:43:y:2008:i:3:p:611-629

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  1. Becker, Gary S & Landes, Elisabeth M & Michael, Robert T, 1977. "An Economic Analysis of Marital Instability," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(6), pages 1141-87, December.
  2. Daron Acemoglu, 2002. "Technical Change, Inequality, and the Labor Market," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(1), pages 7-72, March.
  3. Shelly Lundberg & Elaina Rose, 2003. "Child gender and the transition to marriage," Demography, Springer, vol. 40(2), pages 333-349, May.
  4. Abadie, Alberto, 2003. "Semiparametric instrumental variable estimation of treatment response models," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 113(2), pages 231-263, April.
  5. David Neumark & Mark Schweitzer & William Wascher, 2005. "The Effects of Minimum Wages on the Distribution of Family Incomes: A Nonparametric Analysis," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 40(4), pages 867-894.
  6. Hilary W. Hoynes & Marianne P Bitler & Jonah Gelbach, 2005. "What Mean Impacts Miss:Distributional Effects of Welfare Reform Experiments," Working Papers 531, University of California, Davis, Department of Economics.
  7. Dinardo, J. & Fortin, N.M. & Lemieux, T., 1994. "Labor Market Institutions and the Distribution of Wages, 1973-1992: a Semiparametric Approach," Cahiers de recherche 9406, Universite de Montreal, Departement de sciences economiques.
  8. Joshua D. Angrist & Guido W. Imbens, 1995. "Identification and Estimation of Local Average Treatment Effects," NBER Technical Working Papers 0118, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Becker, Gary S, 1985. "Human Capital, Effort, and the Sexual Division of Labor," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(1), pages S33-58, January.
  10. Rebecca M. Blank & Robert F. Schoeni, 2003. "Changes in the Distribution of Children's Family Income over the 1990's," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(2), pages 304-308, May.
  11. Gordon B. Dahl & Enrico Moretti, 2004. "The Demand for Sons: Evidence from Divorce, Fertility, and Shotgun Marriage," NBER Working Papers 10281, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Angrist, Joshua D & Evans, William N, 1998. "Children and Their Parents' Labor Supply: Evidence from Exogenous Variation in Family Size," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(3), pages 450-77, June.
  13. Jonathan Gruber, 2000. "Is Making Divorce Easier Bad for Children? The Long Run Implications of Unilateral Divorce," NBER Working Papers 7968, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Cited by:
  1. Ichino, Andrea & Lindström, Elly-Ann & Viviano, Eliana, 2011. "Hidden consequences of a first-born boy for mothers," CEPR Discussion Papers 8354, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Wolfgang Frimmel & Martin Halla & Rudolf Winter-Ebmer, 2009. "Assortative Mating and Divorce: Evidence from Austrian Register Data," NRN working papers 2009-18, The Austrian Center for Labor Economics and the Analysis of the Welfare State, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
  3. Andrew Leigh, 2009. "Does child gender affect marital status? Evidence from Australia," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 22(2), pages 351-366, April.
  4. Cook, Philip J. & Durrance, Christine Piette, 2013. "The virtuous tax: Lifesaving and crime-prevention effects of the 1991 federal alcohol-tax increase," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 261-267.
  5. Julio Cáceres-Delpiano & Eugenio Giolito, 2008. "The impact of unilateral divorce on crime," Economics Working Papers we081006, Universidad Carlos III, Departamento de Economía.
  6. David Brady & Rebekah Burroway, 2012. "Targeting, Universalism, and Single-Mother Poverty: A Multilevel Analysis Across 18 Affluent Democracies," Demography, Springer, vol. 49(2), pages 719-746, May.
  7. Laura Giuliano, 2007. "The Demand for Sons or the Demand for Fathers? Understanding the Effects of Child Gender on Divorce Rates," Working Papers 0724, University of Miami, Department of Economics.
  8. Washington, Ebonya, 2007. "Female Socialization How Daughters Affect Their Legislator Fathers' Voting on Women's Issues," Working Papers 15, Yale University, Department of Economics.
  9. Sharon H. Bzostek & Marcia J. Carlson & Sara S. McLanahan, 2006. "Does Mother Know Best?: A Comparison Of Biological And Social Fathers After A Nonmarital Birth," Working Papers 919, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Research on Child Wellbeing..
  10. Philip J. Cook & Christine Piette Durrance, 2011. "The Virtuous Tax: Lifesaving and Crime-Prevention Effects of the 1991 Federal Alcohol-Tax Increase," NBER Working Papers 17709, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Sara McLanahan & Jean Knab & Sarah Meadows, 2009. "Economic Trajectories in Non-Traditional Families with Children," Working Papers 1181, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Research on Child Wellbeing..

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