IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/oup/qjecon/v121y2006i1p267-288..html
   My bibliography  Save this article

Bargaining in the Shadow of the Law: Divorce Laws and Family Distress

Author

Listed:
  • Betsey Stevenson
  • Justin Wolfers

Abstract

This paper exploits the variation occurring from the different timing of divorce law reforms across the United States to evaluate how unilateral divorce changed family violence and whether the option provided by unilateral divorce reduced suicide and spousal homicide. Unilateral divorce both potentially increases the likelihood that a domestic violence relationship ends and acts to transfer bargaining power toward the abused, thereby potentially stopping the abuse in extant relationships. In states that introduced unilateral divorce we find a 8–16 percent decline in female suicide, roughly a 30 percent decline in domestic violence for both men and women, and a 10 percent decline in females murdered by their partners.

Suggested Citation

  • Betsey Stevenson & Justin Wolfers, 2006. "Bargaining in the Shadow of the Law: Divorce Laws and Family Distress," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(1), pages 267-288.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:qjecon:v:121:y:2006:i:1:p:267-288.
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1093/qje/121.1.267
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.
    ---><---

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version below or search for a different version of it.

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Thomas S. Dee, 2003. "Until Death Do You Part: The Effects of Unilateral Divorce on Spousal Homicides," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 41(1), pages 163-182, January.
    2. Rafael Di Tella & Robert J. MacCulloch & Andrew J. Oswald, 2003. "The Macroeconomics of Happiness," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 85(4), pages 809-827, November.
    3. Gary S. Becker, 1981. "A Treatise on the Family," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number beck81-1.
    4. Peters, H Elizabeth, 1986. "Marriage and Divorce: Informational Constraints and Private Contracting," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(3), pages 437-454, June.
    5. Miron, Jeffrey A, 1999. "Violence and the U.S. Prohibitions of Drug and Alcohol," American Law and Economics Review, Oxford University Press, vol. 1(1-2), pages 78-114, Fall.
    6. Lundberg, Shelly & Pollak, Robert A, 1994. "Noncooperative Bargaining Models of Marriage," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(2), pages 132-137, May.
    7. Linda Waite, 1995. "Does marriage matter?," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 32(4), pages 483-507, November.
    8. John J. Donohue III & Steven D. Levitt, 2001. "The Impact of Legalized Abortion on Crime," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(2), pages 379-420.
    9. Sara Markowitz, 2000. "The Price of Alcohol, Wife Abuse, and Husband Abuse," Southern Economic Journal, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 67(2), pages 279-303, October.
    10. Lundberg, Shelly & Pollak, Robert A, 1993. "Separate Spheres Bargaining and the Marriage Market," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(6), pages 988-1010, December.
    11. Hamermesh, Daniel S & Soss, Neal M, 1974. "An Economic Theory of Suicide," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(1), pages 83-98, Jan.-Feb..
    12. Leora Friedberg, 1998. "Did Unilateral Divorce Raise Divorce Rates? Evidence from Panel Data," NBER Working Papers 6398, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Kelly Bedard & Olivier Deschênes, 2005. "Sex Preferences, Marital Dissolution, and the Economic Status of Women," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 40(2).
    14. Justin Wolfers, 2006. "Did Unilateral Divorce Laws Raise Divorce Rates? A Reconciliation and New Results," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(5), pages 1802-1820, December.
    15. Pollak, Robert A, 1994. "For Better or Worse: The Roles of Power in Models of Distribution within Marriage," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(2), pages 148-152, May.
    16. Shelly Lundberg & Robert A. Pollak, 1996. "Bargaining and Distribution in Marriage," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(4), pages 139-158, Fall.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Mumcu, Ayse & Saglam, Ismail, 2006. "Marriage and Divorce in a Model of Matching," MPRA Paper 1907, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Julio Cáceres-Delpiano & Eugenio Giolito, 2012. "The Impact of Unilateral Divorce on Crime," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 30(1), pages 215-248.
    3. Ho Lun Wong, 2021. "Effect of marriage registration on fertility and intrahousehold distribution in Thailand," Pacific Economic Review, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 26(3), pages 312-338, August.
    4. Martin Halla, 2013. "The Effect Of Joint Custody On Family Outcomes," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 11(2), pages 278-315, April.
    5. 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).
    6. Marcassa Stefania, 2013. "Divorce laws and divorce rate in the US," The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, De Gruyter, vol. 13(1), pages 1-39, August.
    7. Leora Friedberg & Steven Stern, 2014. "Marriage, Divorce, And Asymmetric Information," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 55(4), pages 1155-1199, November.
    8. John Douglas Skåtun, 2017. "Bargaining on your Spouse: Coasean and Non-Coasean Behaviour Within Marriage," Journal of Family and Economic Issues, Springer, vol. 38(2), pages 263-278, June.
    9. Adam, Christopher & Hoddinott, John & Ligon, Ethan A., 2011. "Dynamic intrahousehold bargaining, matrimonial property law and suicide in Canada," Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley, Working Paper Series qt4dm5w8v1, Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley.
    10. Ian Smith, 2003. "The Law and Economics of Marriage Contracts," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 17(2), pages 201-226, April.
    11. Bellido, Héctor & Marcén, Miriam, 2014. "Divorce laws and fertility," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(C), pages 56-70.
    12. Pablo Brassiolo, 2016. "Domestic Violence and Divorce Law: When Divorce Threats Become Credible," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 34(2), pages 443-477.
    13. 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.
    14. González-Val, Rafael & Marcén, Miriam, 2014. "Club classification of US divorce rates," MPRA Paper 59440, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    15. Pierre-Andre Chiappori & Bernard Fortin & Guy Lacroix, 2002. "Marriage Market, Divorce Legislation, and Household Labor Supply," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(1), pages 37-72, February.
    16. Papps, Kerry L., 2006. "The Effects of Divorce Risk on the Labour Supply of Married Couples," IZA Discussion Papers 2395, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    17. Bellido, Héctor & Marcén, Miriam, 2011. "Divorce laws and fertility decisions," MPRA Paper 30243, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    18. González, Libertad & Viitanen, Tarja K., 2009. "The effect of divorce laws on divorce rates in Europe," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 53(2), pages 127-138, February.
    19. Chigavazira, Abraham & Fisher, Hayley & Robinson, Tim & Zhu, Anna, 2019. "The Consequences of Extending Equitable Property Division Divorce Laws to Cohabitants," Working Papers 2019-02, University of Sydney, School of Economics.
    20. Martin Halla & Wolfgang Frimmel & Rudolf Winter-Ebmer, 2016. "How Does Parental Divorce Affect Children's Long-term Outcomes?," CDL Aging, Health, Labor working papers 2016-03, The Christian Doppler (CD) Laboratory Aging, Health, and the Labor Market, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D1 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior
    • I1 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health

    Lists

    This item is featured on the following reading lists, Wikipedia, or ReplicationWiki pages:
    1. Bargaining in the Shadow of the Law: Divorce Laws and Family Distress (QJE 2006) in ReplicationWiki

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:oup:qjecon:v:121:y:2006:i:1:p:267-288.. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Oxford University Press (email available below). General contact details of provider: .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.