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The Impact of Unilateral Divorce on Crime

  • Julio C�ceres-Delpiano
  • Eugenio Giolito

Using data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Uniform Crime Report program and differences in the timing of the reform’s introduction, we find that unilateral divorce caused an increase in violent crime rates of approximately 9% during the period 1965–96. When we use age at the time of the reform as an additional source of variation, our findings suggest that young adult cohorts, who were children at the time of the reform, were particularly affected. Finally, we show evidence that a potential channel behind our findings is an increase in poverty and inequality among mothers who were “surprised” by the reform.

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File URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/pdfplus/10.1086/662137
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File URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/full/10.1086/662137
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Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal Journal of Labor Economics.

Volume (Year): 30 (2012)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
Pages: 215 - 248

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Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlabec:doi:10.1086/662137
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/JOLE/

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  1. Betsey Stevenson, 2007. "The Impact of Divorce Laws on Marriage-Specific Capital," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 25, pages 75-94.
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  9. 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.
  10. Ted Joyce, 2004. "Did Legalized Abortion Lower Crime?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(1).
  11. Chiappori, Pierre-André & Fortin, Bernard & Lacroix, Guy, 2001. "Marriage Market, Divorce Legislation and Household Labor Supply," Cahiers de recherche 0103, Université Laval - Département d'économique.
  12. John J. Donohue III & Steven D. Levitt, 2003. "Further Evidence that Legalized Abortion Lowered Crime: A Reply to Joyce," NBER Working Papers 9532, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Stéphane Mechoulan, 2006. "Divorce Laws and the Structure of the American Family," Working Papers tecipa-245, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
  14. Ted Joyce, 2001. "Did Legalized Abortion Lower Crime?," NBER Working Papers 8319, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Christopher L. Foote & Christopher F. Goetz, 2008. "The Impact of Legalized Abortion on Crime: Comment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 123(1), pages 407-423, 02.
  16. Christina Paxson & Jane Waldfogel, 1999. "Work, Welfare, and Child Maltreatment," Working Papers 278, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Health and Wellbeing..
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  18. Donohue III, John J. & Wolfers, Justin, 2006. "Uses and Abuses of Empirical Evidence in the Death Penalty Debate," IZA Discussion Papers 1949, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  19. Ted Joyce, 2009. "A Simple Test of Abortion and Crime," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 91(1), pages 112-123, February.
  20. Bedard, Kelly & Deschenes, Olivier, 2003. "Sex Preferences, Marital Dissolution and the Economic Status of Women," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt07g2372x, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
  21. Roland G. Fryer & Paul S. Heaton & Steven D. Levitt & Kevin M. Murphy, 2005. "Measuring the Impact of Crack Cocaine," NBER Working Papers 11318, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  23. Justin Wolfers, 2003. "Did Unilateral Divorce Laws Raise Divorce Rates? A Reconciliation and New Results," NBER Working Papers 10014, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  24. John J. Donohue & Steven D. Levitt, 2006. "Measurement Error, Legalized Abortion, and the Decline in Crime: A Response to Foote and Goetz (2005)," NBER Working Papers 11987, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  25. 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.
  26. Cáceres-Delpiano, Julio & Giolito, Eugenio P., 2008. "How Unilateral Divorce Affects Children," IZA Discussion Papers 3342, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  27. Gray, Jeffrey S, 1998. "Divorce-Law Changes, Household Bargaining, and Married Women's Labor Supply," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(3), pages 628-42, June.
  28. Ellman, Ira Mark & Lohr, Sharon L., 1998. "Dissolving the relationship between divorce laws and divorce rates," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(3), pages 341-359, September.
  29. Niko Matouschek & Imran Rasul, 2008. "The Economics of the Marriage Contract: Theories and Evidence," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 51(1), pages 59-110, 02.
  30. Morgan Kelly, 2000. "Inequality And Crime," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 82(4), pages 530-539, November.
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