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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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File URL: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/51601/
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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 51601.

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Length: 33 pages
Date of creation: 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:51601

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  1. Shelly Lundberg & Elaina Rose, 2003. "Child gender and the transition to marriage," Demography, Springer, vol. 40(2), pages 333-349, May.
  2. 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.
  3. Imbens, Guido W & Angrist, Joshua D, 1994. "Identification and Estimation of Local Average Treatment Effects," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(2), pages 467-75, March.
  4. 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.
  5. Marianne P. Bitler & Jonah B. Gelbach & Hilary W. Hoynes, 2006. "What Mean Impacts Miss: Distributional Effects of Welfare Reform Experiments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(4), pages 988-1012, September.
  6. Abadie, Alberto, 2003. "Semiparametric instrumental variable estimation of treatment response models," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 113(2), pages 231-263, April.
  7. 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.
  8. Daron Acemoglu, 2002. "Technical Change, Inequality, and the Labor Market," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(1), pages 7-72, March.
  9. David Neumark & Mark Schweitzer & William Wascher, 2004. "The effects of minimum wages on the distribution of family incomes: a nonparametric analysis," Working Paper 0412, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. DiNardo, John & Fortin, Nicole M & Lemieux, Thomas, 1996. "Labor Market Institutions and the Distribution of Wages, 1973-1992: A Semiparametric Approach," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 64(5), pages 1001-44, September.
  13. 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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Cited by:
  1. Julio Cáceres-Delpiano & Eugenio Giolito, 2008. "The impact of unilateral divorce on crime," Economics Working Papers we081006, Universidad Carlos III, Departamento de Economía.
  2. Washington, Ebonya, 2007. "Female Socialization How Daughters Affect Their Legislator Fathers' Voting on Women's Issues," Working Papers 15, Yale University, Department of Economics.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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..
  7. Brighita Negrusa & Sebastian Negrusa, 2014. "Home Front: Post-Deployment Mental Health and Divorces," Demography, Springer, vol. 51(3), pages 895-916, June.
  8. 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.
  9. Andrew Leigh, 2009. "Does child gender affect marital status? Evidence from Australia," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 22(2), pages 351-366, April.
  10. 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.
  11. 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..
  12. 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.

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