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The effect of marital breakup on the income distribution of women with children

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  • Elizabeth 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 divorce on economic outcomes, and has concluded that divorce has little effect on women’s mean household income. However, using a Quantile Treatment Effect methodology (Abadie et al. 2002) we find that divorce widens the income distribution: it increases the probability that a woman has very low or very high household income. It appears that some women successfully generate income through child support, welfare, combining households, and increased labor supply after divorce, while others are markedly unsuccessful. Thus, although divorce has little effect on mean income, it nonetheless increases poverty and inequality. These findings imply that divorce has important welfare consequences.

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File URL: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/3273/
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library in its series LSE Research Online Documents on Economics with number 3273.

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Length: 32 pages
Date of creation: Apr 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:3273

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Keywords: divorce and poverty;

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References

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  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Daron Acemoglu, 2002. "Technical Change, Inequality, and the Labor Market," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(1), pages 7-72, March.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Shelly Lundberg & Elaina Rose, 2003. "Child gender and the transition to marriage," Demography, Springer, vol. 40(2), pages 333-349, May.
  11. Abadie, Alberto, 2003. "Semiparametric instrumental variable estimation of treatment response models," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 113(2), pages 231-263, April.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Andrew Leigh, 2009. "Does child gender affect marital status? Evidence from Australia," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 22(2), pages 351-366, April.
  2. Julio C�ceres-Delpiano & Eugenio Giolito, 2012. "The Impact of Unilateral Divorce on Crime," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 30(1), pages 215 - 248.
  3. Ichino, Andrea & Lindström, Elly-Anne & Viviano, Eliana, 2011. "Hidden consequences of a first-born boy for mothers," Working Paper Series, Center for Labor Studies 2011:9, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
  4. Wolfgang Frimmel & Martin Halla & Rudolf Winter-Ebmer, 2013. "Assortative mating and divorce: evidence from Austrian register data," Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series A, Royal Statistical Society, vol. 176(4), pages 907-929, October.
  5. 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.
  6. 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..
  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. 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. 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..
  11. Brighita Negrusa & Sebastian Negrusa, 2014. "Home Front: Post-Deployment Mental Health and Divorces," Demography, Springer, vol. 51(3), pages 895-916, June.
  12. 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.

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