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

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  • Alessandra Voena

Abstract

This paper examines how divorce laws affect couples' intertemporal choices and well-being. Exploiting panel variation in US laws, I estimate the parameters of a model of household decision-making. Household survey data indicate that the introduction of unilateral divorce in states that imposed an equal division of property is associated with higher household savings and lower female employment, implying a distortion in household assets accumulation and a transfer toward wives whose share in household resources is smaller than the one of their husband. When spouses share consumption equally, separate property or prenuptial agreements can reduce distortions and increase equity. (JEL D13, D14, D91, J12, J16, K36)

Suggested Citation

  • Alessandra Voena, 2015. "Yours, Mine, and Ours: Do Divorce Laws Affect the Intertemporal Behavior of Married Couples?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(8), pages 2295-2332, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:105:y:2015:i:8:p:2295-2332
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.20120234
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D13 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Production and Intrahouse Allocation
    • D14 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Saving; Personal Finance
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • K36 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law - - - Family and Personal Law

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