Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login

Yours, Mine and Ours: Do Divorce Laws Affect the Intertemporal Behavior of Married Couples?

Contents:

Author Info

  • Alessandra Voena

    ()
    (Department of Economics, Stanford University)

Registered author(s):

    Abstract

    Divorce laws regulate when divorce is allowed and establish each spouse's property rights over household assets. This paper examines how such laws affect the intertemporal behavior and the welfare of married couples. I build a dynamic model of household choice in which moving from a mutual consent to a unilateral divorce regime results in limited commitment and renegotiation of intra-household allocations. I estimate the key parameters of the model by exploiting panel variation in U.S. divorce laws across states from the late 1960s to the 1990s. In states that imposed an equal division of property, couples responded to unilateral divorce by increasing savings about 20% more than in states in which assets were retained by the spouse who had formal title to the property, suggesting that equal division may have been costly for primary earners. Furthermore, wives responded to unilateral divorce by temporarily reducing their employment by more than 5 percentage points, only in states in which the division of property was equal. These findings indicate that the threat of unilateral divorce and the leverage provided by the equal division of property allowed wives to appropriate a larger share of household resources (consumption and leisure). My estimates also suggest that equal division of property benefited divorcing women when it was first introduced, since they had a smaller share of resources in marriage and thus less assets in their name than their husbands. However, counterfactual experiments indicate that the equal division of property may be detrimental to women who consume as much as their husbands in marriage, but have lower wages. When spouses consume approximately equal amounts, secondary earners are better off under a separate property regime because they may need more savings than the breadwinners to smooth consumption when going into a divorce.

    Download Info

    If 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.
    File URL: http://www-siepr.stanford.edu/repec/sip/10-022.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research in its series Discussion Papers with number 10-022.

    as in new window
    Length:
    Date of creation: Apr 2011
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:sip:dpaper:10-022

    Contact details of provider:
    Postal: 366 Galvez Street, Stanford, California 94305-6015
    Phone: (650) 725-1874
    Fax: (650) 723-8611
    Web page: http://siepr.stanford.edu
    More information through EDIRC

    Related research

    Keywords:

    References

    References listed on IDEAS
    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.:
    as in new window
    1. Blundell, Richard William & Chiappori, Pierre-André & Magnac, Thierry & Meghir, Costas, 2005. "Collective Labour Supply: Heterogeneity and Non-Participation," CEPR Discussion Papers 5287, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. Justin Wolfers, 2006. "Did Unilateral Divorce Laws Raise Divorce Rates? A Reconciliation and New Results," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(5), pages 1802-1820, December.
    3. Helmut Rainer, 2003. "Should We Write Prenuptial Contracts?," Economics Discussion Papers 572, University of Essex, Department of Economics.
    4. Greenwood, Jeremy & Guner, Nezih, 2007. "Marriage and Divorce since World War II: Analyzing the Role of Technological Progress on the Formation of Households," CEPR Discussion Papers 6391, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    5. Hamish Low & Costas Meghir & Luigi Pistaferri, 2009. "Wage Risk and Employment Risk over the Life Cycle," NBER Working Papers 14901, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Saku Aura, 2002. "Uncommitted Couples: Some Efficiency and Policy Implications of Marital Bargaining," Working Papers 0217, Department of Economics, University of Missouri.
    7. Adam, Christopher & Hoddinott, John & Ligon, Ethan A., 2011. "Dynamic intrahousehold bargaining, matrimonial property law and suicide in Canada," Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley, Working Paper Series qt4dm5w8v1, Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley.
    8. Betsey Stevenson & Justin Wolfers, 2007. "Marriage and Divorce: Changes and their Driving Forces," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(2), pages 27-52, Spring.
    9. Del Boca, Daniela & Flinn, Christopher, 2012. "Endogenous household interaction," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 166(1), pages 49-65.
    10. Ethan Ligon & Jonathan P. Thomas & Tim Worrall, 1998. "Mutual Insurance, Individual Savings and Limited Commitment," Keele Department of Economics Discussion Papers (1995-2001) 98/14, Department of Economics, Keele University.
    11. Libertad González & Berkay Özcan, 2013. "The Risk of Divorce and Household Saving Behavior," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 48(2), pages 404-434.
    12. Chiappori, Pierre-André & Iyigun, Murat & Weiss, Yoram, 2007. "Public Goods, Transferable Utility and Divorce Laws," IZA Discussion Papers 2646, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    13. Maurizio Mazzocco, 2007. "Household Intertemporal Behaviour: A Collective Characterization and a Test of Commitment," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 74(3), pages 857-895.
    14. Doepke, Matthias & Tertilt, Michèle, 2008. "Women’s Liberation: What’s in It for Men?," IZA Discussion Papers 3421, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    15. Mariacristina De Nardi & Eric French & John Bailey Jones, 2009. "Why do the elderly save? the role of medical expenses," Working Paper Series WP-09-02, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
    16. Chiappori, Pierre-André & Iyigun, Murat & Weiss, Yoram, 2008. "An Assignment Model with Divorce and Remarriage," IZA Discussion Papers 3892, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    17. John Knowles, 2006. "Why are Married Men Working So Much?," 2006 Meeting Papers 445, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    18. Claudia Olivetti, 2005. "Changes in Women's Hours of Market Work: The Role of Returns to Experience," Boston University - Department of Economics - Macroeconomics Working Papers Series WP2005-008, Boston University - Department of Economics, revised Jun 2006.
    19. Joseph G. Altonji & Rebecca M. Blank, . "Race and Gender in the Labor Market," IPR working papers 98-18, Institute for Policy Resarch at Northwestern University.
    20. Shannon Seitz & Aloysius Siow & Eugene Choo, 2009. "Marriage matching, risk sharing and spousal labor supplies," 2009 Meeting Papers 16, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    21. repec:cdl:agrebk:2221095 is not listed on IDEAS
    22. Amalia Miller, 2011. "The effects of motherhood timing on career path," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 24(3), pages 1071-1100, July.
    23. Gourinchas, Pierre-Olivier & Parker, Jonathan A, 2000. "Consumption Over the Life-Cycle," CEPR Discussion Papers 2345, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    24. Stevenson, Betsey & Wolfers, Justin, 2003. "Bargaining in the Shadow of the Law: Divorce Laws and Family Distress," Research Papers 1828, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
    25. Powers, Elizabeth T., 1998. "Does means-testing welfare discourage saving? evidence from a change in AFDC policy in the United States," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 33-53, April.
    26. Betsey Stevenson, 2006. "The impact of divorce laws on marriage-specific capital," Working Paper Series 2006-43, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
    27. Virginia Sanchez-Marcos & Orazio Attanasio & Hamish Low, 2004. "Explaining Changes in Female Labour Supply in a Life-Cycle Model," 2004 Meeting Papers 492, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    28. Pierre-André Chiappori & Bernard Fortin & Guy Lacroix, 2001. "Marriage Market, Divorce Legislation and Household Labor Supply," CIRANO Working Papers 2001s-16, CIRANO.
    29. repec:bla:restud:v:74:y:2007:i:2:p:417-445 is not listed on IDEAS
    30. Johnson, William R & Skinner, Jonathan, 1986. "Labor Supply and Marital Separation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(3), pages 455-69, June.
    31. Leora Friedberg, 1998. "Did Unilateral Divorce Raise Divorce Rates? Evidence from Panel Data," NBER Working Papers 6398, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    32. François Bourguignon & Martin Browning & Pierre-André Chiappori, 2006. "Efficient Intra-household Allocations and Distribution Factors: Implications and Identification," CAM Working Papers 2006-02, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics. Centre for Applied Microeconometrics.
    33. Stéphane Mechoulan, 2006. "Divorce Laws and the Structure of the American Family," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 35(1), pages 143-174, 01.
    34. repec:bla:restud:v:76:y:2009:i:2:p:503-528 is not listed on IDEAS
    35. Betsey Stevenson, 2008. "Divorce Law and Women's Labor Supply," NBER Working Papers 14346, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    36. Simon Clark, 2004. "Property Rights and the Economics of Divorce," ESE Discussion Papers 18, Edinburgh School of Economics, University of Edinburgh.
    37. Jerome Adda & Russell W. Cooper, 2003. "Dynamic Economics: Quantitative Methods and Applications," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262012014, December.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as in new window

    Cited by:
    1. Doepke, Matthias & Tertilt, Michèle & Voena, Alessandra, 2011. "The Economics and Politics of Women's Rights," IZA Discussion Papers 6215, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

    Lists

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:sip:dpaper:10-022. See general 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: (Anne Shor).

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.