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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 firstborn child significantly increases the probability that a woman's first marriage breaks up. Recent work has exploited this exogenous variation to measure the effect of marital breakup on economic outcomes, and has concluded that divorce has little effect on women's average household income. Employing an Abadie (2003) technique that allows us to look at the impact of marital breakup throughout the income distribution, however, we find that divorce greatly increases the probability that a woman lives in a household with income in the bottom quartile. While women partially offset the loss of spousal earnings with child support, welfare, combining households, and substantially increasing their labor supply, divorce significantly increases the odds that a woman with children is poor.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Centre for Economic Performance, LSE in its series CEP Discussion Papers with number dp0787.

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Date of creation: Apr 2007
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Handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp0787

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Web page: http://cep.lse.ac.uk/_new/publications/series.asp?prog=CEP

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Keywords: marital breakup; earnings of women; poverty; children;

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  1. Joshua D. Angrist & William N. Evans, 1996. "Children and Their Parents' Labor Supply: Evidence from Exogenous Variation in Family Size," NBER Working Papers 5778, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Daron Acemoglu, 2000. "Technical Change, Inequality, and the Labor Market," NBER Working Papers 7800, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Marianne Bitler & Jonah Gelbach & Hilary Hoynes, 2003. "What Mean Impacts Miss: Distributional Effects of Welfare Reform Experiments," NBER Working Papers 10121, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  6. 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.
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  8. 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.
  9. David Neumark & Mark Schweitzer & William Wascher, 1998. "The Effects of Minimum Wages on the Distribution of Family Incomes: A Non-Parametric Analysis," NBER Working Papers 6536, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Shelly Lundberg & Elaina Rose, 2003. "Child gender and the transition to marriage," Demography, Springer, vol. 40(2), pages 333-349, May.
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Cited by:
  1. Wolfgang Frimmel & Martin Halla & Rudolf Winter-Ebmer, 2009. "Assortative Mating and Divorce: Evidence from Austrian Register Data," Economics working papers 2009-10, Department of Economics, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
  2. 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.
  3. Ichino, Andrea & Lindström, Elly-Ann & Viviano, Eliana, 2014. "Hidden consequences of a first-born boy for mothers," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 123(3), pages 274-278.
  4. Julio Cáceres-Delpiano & Eugenio Giolito, 2008. "The impact of unilateral divorce on crime," Economics Working Papers we081006, Universidad Carlos III, Departamento de Economía.
  5. Andrew Leigh, 2006. "Does Child Gender Affect Marital Status?," CEPR Discussion Papers 526, Centre for Economic Policy Research, Research School of Economics, Australian National University.
  6. Washington, Ebonya, 2007. "Female Socialization How Daughters Affect Their Legislator Fathers' Voting on Women's Issues," Working Papers 15, Yale University, Department of Economics.
  7. 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.
  8. 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..
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  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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