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Free to Leave? A Welfare Analysis of Divorce Regimes

Author

Listed:
  • Raquel Fernández
  • Joyce Cheng Wong

Abstract

During the 1970s, the United States switched from mutual consent to a unilateral divorce regime. Who benefited/lost from this change? We develop a dynamic life cycle model in which agents make consumption, saving, work, and marital-status decisions under a given divorce regime. Calibrating the model to match key moments for the 1940 cohort and conditioning solely on gender, our ex ante welfare analysis finds that women fare better under mutual consent whereas men prefer a unilateral system. Conditioning as well on initial productivity (expected income), we find that the top three quintiles of men and the top two quintiles of women prefer unilateral divorce.

Suggested Citation

  • Raquel Fernández & Joyce Cheng Wong, 2017. "Free to Leave? A Welfare Analysis of Divorce Regimes," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 9(3), pages 72-115, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aejmac:v:9:y:2017:i:3:p:72-115
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/mac.20150293
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Richard Blundell & Monica Costa Dias & Costas Meghir & Jonathan Shaw, 2016. "Female Labor Supply, Human Capital, and Welfare Reform," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 84, pages 1705-1753, September.
    2. Fatih Guvenen, 2007. "Learning Your Earning: Are Labor Income Shocks Really Very Persistent?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(3), pages 687-712, June.
    3. Attanasio, Orazio P & Weber, Guglielmo, 1995. "Is Consumption Growth Consistent with Intertemporal Optimization? Evidence from the Consumer Expenditure Survey," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(6), pages 1121-1157, December.
    4. Raquel Bernal & Michael P. Keane, 2011. "Child Care Choices and Children's Cognitive Achievement: The Case of Single Mothers," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 29(3), pages 459-512.
    5. Raquel Fernández & Joyce C. Wong, 2014. "Divorce Risk, Wages, and Working Wives: A Quantitative Life-Cycle Analysis of Female Labor Force Participation," NBER Working Papers 19869, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Christina A. Houseworth & Barry R. Chiswick, 2020. "Divorce among European and Mexican Immigrants in the U.S," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 18(1), pages 1-25, March.
    2. Hamish Low & Costas Meghir & Luigi Pistaferri & Alessandra Voena, 2018. "Marriage, Labor Supply and the Dynamics of the Social Safety Net," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 2121, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
    3. Andrew Shephard, 2019. "Marriage market dynamics, gender, and the age gap," PIER Working Paper Archive 19-003, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • 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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