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The effect of divorce laws on divorce rates in Europe

  • González, Libertad
  • Viitanen, Tarja K.

We analyze the effect on divorce rates of the legal reforms leading to "easier divorce" that took place in Europe during the last four decades. We construct a 54-year-long panel and exploit the different timing and nature of the reforms in divorce laws across countries. The reforms range from countries that legalized divorce to the introduction of no-fault grounds and unilateral divorce. We estimate that the introduction of no-fault, unilateral divorce increased the divorce rate by about 0.6, a sizeable effect given the average rate of 2 divorces per 1000 people in 2002.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal European Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 53 (2009)
Issue (Month): 2 (February)
Pages: 127-138

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Handle: RePEc:eee:eecrev:v:53:y:2009:i:2:p:127-138
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/eer

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  1. Betsey Stevenson & Justin Wolfers, 2007. "Marriage and divorce: changes and their driving forces," Working Paper Series 2007-03, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  2. 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.
  3. Jonathan Gruber, 2000. "Is Making Divorce Easier Bad for Children? The Long Run Implications of Unilateral Divorce," NBER Working Papers 7968, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Giulio Fella & Paola Manzini & Marco Mariotti, 2002. "Does Divorce Law Matter?," Working Papers 454, Queen Mary University of London, School of Economics and Finance.
  5. Gary S. Becker, 1981. "A Treatise on the Family," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number beck81-1, May.
  6. Wolfers, Justin, 2003. "Did Unilateral Divorce Laws Raise Divorce Rates? A Reconciliation and New Results," Research Papers 1819, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
  7. Leora Friedberg, 1998. "Did Unilateral Divorce Raise Divorce Rates? Evidence from Panel Data," NBER Working Papers 6398, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Jonathan Gardner & Andrew J. Oswald, 2006. "Do divorcing couples become happier by breaking up?," Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series A, Royal Statistical Society, vol. 169(2), pages 319-336.
  9. Marianne Bertrand & Esther Duflo & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2002. "How Much Should We Trust Differences-in-Differences Estimates?," NBER Working Papers 8841, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. 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.
  11. Peters, H Elizabeth, 1992. "Marriage and Divorce: Reply," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(3), pages 687-93, June.
  12. Rainer, Helmut, 2007. "Should we write prenuptial contracts?," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 51(2), pages 337-363, February.
  13. Betsey Stevenson, 2006. "The impact of divorce laws on marriage-specific capital," Working Paper Series 2006-43, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  14. Becker, Gary S & Landes, Elisabeth M & Michael, Robert T, 1977. "An Economic Analysis of Marital Instability," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(6), pages 1141-87, December.
  15. Clark, Simon, 1999. "Law, Property, and Marital Dissolution," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 109(454), pages C41-54, March.
  16. Parkman, Allen M, 1992. "Unilateral Divorce and the Labor-Force Participation Rate of Married Women, Revisited," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(3), pages 671-78, June.
  17. Jonathan Gruber, 2004. "Is Making Divorce Easier Bad for Children? The Long-Run Implications of Unilateral Divorce," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 22(4), pages 799-834, October.
  18. Allen, Douglas W, 1992. "Marriage and Divorce: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(3), pages 679-85, June.
  19. Stéphane Mechoulan, 2005. "“Economic Theory’s Stance On No-Fault Divorce”," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 3(3), pages 337-359, 09.
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