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Is Making Divorce Easier Bad for Children? The Long-Run Implications of Unilateral Divorce


  • Jonathan Gruber

    (Massachusetts Institute of Technology and National Bureau of Economic Research)


I assess the long-run implications for children of growing up in a unilateral divorce environment, which increases the ease of divorce by not requiring the explicit consent of both partners. Using 40 years of census data to exploit the variation across states and over time in changes in divorce regulation, I confirm that unilateral divorce regulations do significantly increase the incidence of divorce. Adults who were exposed to unilateral divorce regulations as children are less well educated, have lower family incomes, marry earlier but separate more often, and have higher odds of adult suicide.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlabec:v:22:y:2004:i:4:p:799-834

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Sheila Krein & Andrea Beller, 1988. "Educational attainment of children from single-parent families: Differences by exposure, gender, and race," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 25(2), pages 221-234, May.
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    6. Marianne Bertrand & Esther Duflo & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2004. "How Much Should We Trust Differences-In-Differences Estimates?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(1), pages 249-275.
    7. Spiros Bougheas & Yannis Georgellis, 1999. "The effect of divorce costs on marriage formation and dissolution," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 12(3), pages 489-498.
    8. Leora Friedberg, 1998. "Did Unilateral Divorce Raise Divorce Rates? Evidence from Panel Data," NBER Working Papers 6398, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Andrew Cherlin & Kathleen Kiernan & P. Chase-Lansdale, 1995. "Parental divorce in childhood and demographic outcomes in young adulthood," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 32(3), pages 299-318, August.
    10. Kevin Lang & Jay L. Zagorsky, 2001. "Does Growing up with a Parent Absent Really Hurt?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 36(2), pages 253-273.
    11. Shelly J. Lundberg & Robert A. Pollak & Terence J. Wales, 1997. "Do Husbands and Wives Pool Their Resources? Evidence from the United Kingdom Child Benefit," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 32(3), pages 463-480.
    12. Nicholas Wolfinger, 1999. "Trends in the intergenerational transmission of divorce," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 36(3), pages 415-420, August.
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