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Improving child welfare in middle income countries: The unintended consequence of a pro-homemaker divorce law and wait time to divorce

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  • Heggeness, Misty L.

Abstract

This study identifies the impact of access to and the speed of divorce on the welfare of children in a middle income largely Catholic country. Using difference-in-difference estimation techniques, I compare school enrollment for children of married and cohabiting parent households before and after the legalization of divorce. Implementing pro-homemaker divorce laws increased school enrollment anywhere from 3.4 to 5.5 percentage points, and the effect was particularly salient on secondary school students. I provide evidence that administrative processes influencing the speed of divorce affect household bargaining and investments in schooling. With every additional six months wait to the finalization of divorce, school enrollment decreased by approximately one percentage point. The impact almost doubles for secondary schooling. When contemplating development policies, advocates, policymakers, and leaders should not overlook the impact changes in family policies and administrative processes can have on advancements in child welfare and, ultimately, economic development. (JEL: D12, D13, J12, I21, I25).

Suggested Citation

  • Heggeness, Misty L., 2020. "Improving child welfare in middle income countries: The unintended consequence of a pro-homemaker divorce law and wait time to divorce," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 143(C).
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:deveco:v:143:y:2020:i:c:s0304387818317474
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jdeveco.2019.102405
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    Cited by:

    1. Misty Heggeness, 2020. "Why Is Mommy So Stressed? Estimating the Immediate Impact of the COVID-19 Shock on Parental Attachment to the Labor Market and the Double Bind of Mothers," Opportunity and Inclusive Growth Institute Working Papers 33, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
    2. Misty L. Heggeness, 2020. "Estimating the immediate impact of the COVID-19 shock on parental attachment to the labor market and the double bind of mothers," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 18(4), pages 1053-1078, December.
    3. Heggeness, Misty L., 2020. "Improving child welfare in middle income countries: The unintended consequence of a pro-homemaker divorce law and wait time to divorce," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 143(C).
    4. Bethelhem Legesse Debela & Esther Gehrke & Matin Qaim, 2021. "Links between Maternal Employment and Child Nutrition in Rural Tanzania," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 103(3), pages 812-830, May.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Household bargaining; Education; Child welfare; Divorce; Family law; Difference-in-difference estimation;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • D13 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Production and Intrahouse Allocation
    • J10 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - General
    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • H0 - Public Economics - - General

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