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The Impact of Unilateral Divorce on Crime

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  • Cáceres-Delpiano, Julio

    ()
    (Universidad Carlos III de Madrid)

  • Giolito, Eugenio P.

    ()
    (Universidad Alberto Hurtado)

Abstract

In this paper, we evaluate the impact of unilateral divorce on crime. First, using crime rates from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report program for the period 1965-1998 and differences in the timing in the introduction of the reform, we find that unilateral divorce has a positive impact on violent crime rates, with an 8% to 12% average increase for the period under consideration. Second, arrest data not only confirms the findings of a positive impact on violent crime but also shows that this impact is concentrated among those age groups (15 to 24) that are more likely to engage in these type of offenses. Specifically, for the age group 15-19, we observe an average impact over the period under analysis of 40% and 36% for murder and aggravated assault arrest rates, respectively. Disaggregating total arrest rates by race, we find that the effects are driven by the Black sub-sample. Third, using the age at the time of the divorce law reform as a second source of variation to analyze age-specific arrest rates we confirm the positive impact on the different types of violent crime as well as a positive impact for property crime rates, controlling for all confounding factors that may operate at the state-year, state age or age-year level. The results for murder arrests and for homicide rates (Supplemental Homicide Report) for the 15-24 age groups are robust with respect to specifications and specifically those that include year-state and year-age dummies. The magnitude goes from 15% to 40% depending on the specification and the age at the time of the reform.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 3380.

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Length: 38 pages
Date of creation: Mar 2008
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Journal of Labor Economics, 2012, 30 (1) 215 - 248
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp3380

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Keywords: crime rates; unilateral divorce; arrest rates;

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References

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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Steffen Reinhold & Thorsten Kneip & Gerrit Bauer, 2013. "The long run consequences of unilateral divorce laws on children—evidence from SHARELIFE," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 26(3), pages 1035-1056, July.
  2. Cáceres-Delpiano, Julio & Simonsen, Marianne, 2012. "The toll of fertility on mothers’ wellbeing," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(5), pages 752-766.
  3. Cáceres-Delpiano, Julio & Giolito, Eugenio P., 2008. "How Unilateral Divorce Affects Children," IZA Discussion Papers 3342, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Hope Corman & Kelly Noonan & Nancy E. Reichman & Ofira Schwartz-Soicher, 2006. "Crime and Circumstance: The Effects of Infant Health Shocks on Fathers’ Criminal Activity," Working Papers 913, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Research on Child Wellbeing..
  5. Ligthart, J.E. & Rider, M. & Wang, R., 2013. "Does the Fiscal Decentralization Promote Public Safety? Evidence from United States," Discussion Paper 2013-021, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  6. Hope Corman & Kelly Noonan & Nancy Reichman & Ofira Schwartz-Soicher, 2011. "Life Shocks and Crime: A Test of the “Turning Point” Hypothesis," Demography, Springer, vol. 48(3), pages 1177-1202, August.

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