Did Unilateral Divorce Raise Divorce Rates? Evidence from Panel Data
AbstractThis paper revisits the evidence on the impact of unilateral divorce laws on divorce rates in the United States. Most states switched from requiring mutual consent to allowing unilateral or no-fault divorce between 1970 and 1985, while the national divorce rate more than doubled after 1965. According to the Coase theorem, however, the legal shift should have had no effect on divorce rates. Recent papers using cross-sectional micro data have disputed the empirical importance of unilateral divorce, disagreeing in particular about controls for state-level heterogeneity in divorce propensities. This paper uses a panel of state-level divorce rates which includes virtually every divorce in the U.S. over the entire period of the law changes. Adding comprehensive controls - year and state fixed effects and state fixed trends - for changing unobservable divorce propensities reveals that the divorce rate would have been about 6% lower if states had not switched to unilateral divorce, accounting for 17% of the increase in the divorce rate between 1968 and 1988. Additional results in this paper demonstrate that the type of unilateral divorce law that states adopted matters. Weaker versions of unilateral divorce, which retain elements of mutual divorce, raised the divorce rate significantly, but by less than the strongest versions of unilateral divorce did.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 6398.
Date of creation: Feb 1998
Date of revision:
Contact details of provider:
Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
Web page: http://www.nber.org
More information through EDIRC
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure
- K39 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law - - - Other
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Jacobson, Louis S & LaLonde, Robert J & Sullivan, Daniel G, 1993.
"Earnings Losses of Displaced Workers,"
American Economic Review,
American Economic Association, vol. 83(4), pages 685-709, September.
- Louis S. Jacobson & Robert J. LaLonde & Daniel G. Sullivan, 1992. "Earnings losses of displaced workers," Working Paper Series, Macroeconomic Issues 92-28, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
- Louis S. Jacobson & Robert J. LaLonde & Daniel Sullivan, 1992. "Earnings Losses of Displaced Workers," Upjohn Working Papers and Journal Articles 92-11, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
- Gruber, J. & Hanratty, M., 1994.
"The Labor Market Efects of Introducing National Health Insurance: Evidence from Canada,"
94-05, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
- Gruber, Jonathan & Hanratty, Maria, 1995. "The Labor-Market Effects of Introducing National Health Insurance: Evidence from Canada," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 13(2), pages 163-73, April.
- Jonathan Gruber & Maria Hanratty, 1993. "The Labor Market Effects of Introducing National Health Insurance: Evidence from Canada," NBER Working Papers 4589, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Allen, Douglas W, 1992. "Marriage and Divorce: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(3), pages 679-85, June.
- Peters, H Elizabeth, 1986. "Marriage and Divorce: Informational Constraints and Private Contracting," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(3), pages 437-54, June.
- Peters, H Elizabeth, 1992. "Marriage and Divorce: Reply," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(3), pages 687-93, June.
This item has more than 25 citations. To prevent cluttering this page, these citations are listed on a separate page. reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.Access and download statisticsgeneral information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ().
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.