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Unilateral divorce versus child custody and child support in the U.S

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  • González-Val, Rafael
  • Marcén, Miriam

Abstract

This paper explores the response of the divorce rate to law reforms introducing unilateral divorce after controlling for law reforms concerning the aftermath of divorce, which are omitted from most previous studies. We introduce two main policy changes that have swept the US since the late 1970s: the approval of the joint custody regime and the Child Support Enforcement program. Because those reforms affect divorce decisions by counteracting the reallocation of property rights generated by the unilateral divorce procedure and by increasing the expected financial costs of divorce, it is arguable that their omissions might obscure the impact of unilateral divorce reforms on divorce rates. After allowing for changes in laws concerning the aftermath of divorce, we find that the positive impact of unilateral divorce reforms on divorce rates does not vanish over time, suggesting that the Coase theorem may not apply to changes in divorce laws. Supplemental analysis, developed to examine the frequency of permanent shocks in US divorce rates, indicates that the positive permanent changes in divorce rates can be associated with the implementation of unilateral divorce reforms and that the negative permanent changes can be related to the law reforms concerning living arrangements in the aftermath of divorce. This seems to confirm the important role of these policies in the evolution of divorce rates.

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  • González-Val, Rafael & Marcén, Miriam, 2012. "Unilateral divorce versus child custody and child support in the U.S," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 81(2), pages 613-643.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:81:y:2012:i:2:p:613-643
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2011.08.008
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    Cited by:

    1. Jennifer Roff, 2017. "Cleaning in the Shadow of the Law? Bargaining, Marital Investment, and the Impact of Divorce Law on Husbands' Intrahousehold Work," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 60(1), pages 115-134.
    2. Rafael González-Val & Miriam Marcén, 2017. "Divorce and the business cycle: a cross-country analysis," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 15(3), pages 879-904, September.
    3. Duha T. Altindag & John Nunley & Alan Seals, 2017. "Child-custody reform and the division of labor in the household," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 15(3), pages 833-856, September.
    4. Bellido, Héctor & Marcén, Miriam, 2014. "Divorce laws and fertility," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(C), pages 56-70.
    5. González-Val, Rafael & Marcén, Miriam, 2014. "Club classification of US divorce rates," MPRA Paper 59440, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    6. Rafael González-Val & Miriam Marcén, 2015. "Regional unemployment, marriage, and divorce," Working Papers 2015/38, Institut d'Economia de Barcelona (IEB).
    7. González-Val, Rafael & Marcén, Miriam, 2012. "Breaks in the breaks: An analysis of divorce rates in Europe," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 242-255.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Divorce rate; Child support; Joint custody; Unilateral divorce; Unit root; Structural break;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C12 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Hypothesis Testing: General
    • C22 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Time-Series Models; Dynamic Quantile Regressions; Dynamic Treatment Effect Models; Diffusion Processes
    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure
    • J18 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Public Policy
    • K36 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law - - - Family and Personal Law

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