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The Effect of Marital Breakup on the Income Distribution of Women with Children

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Listed:
  • Elizabeth O. Ananat
  • Guy Michaels

Abstract

Having a female first-born child significantly increases the probability that a woman’s first marriage breaks up. Using this exogenous variation, recent work finds that divorce has little effect on women’s mean household income. We further investigate the effect of divorce using Quantile Treatment Effect methodology and find that it increases women’s odds of having very high or very low income. In other words, while some women successfully compensate for lost spousal earnings through child support, welfare, combining households, and increasing labor supply, others are markedly unsuccessful. We conclude that by raising both poverty and inequality, divorce has important welfare consequences.

Suggested Citation

  • Elizabeth O. Ananat & Guy Michaels, 2008. "The Effect of Marital Breakup on the Income Distribution of Women with Children," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 43(3), pages 611-629.
  • Handle: RePEc:uwp:jhriss:v:43:y:2008:i:3:p:611-629
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Becker, Gary S, 1985. "Human Capital, Effort, and the Sexual Division of Labor," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(1), pages 33-58, January.
    2. Elizabeth O. Ananat & Guy Michaels, 2008. "The Effect of Marital Breakup on the Income Distribution of Women with Children," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 43(3), pages 611-629.
    3. Marianne P. Bitler & Jonah B. Gelbach & Hilary W. Hoynes, 2006. "What Mean Impacts Miss: Distributional Effects of Welfare Reform Experiments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(4), pages 988-1012, September.
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    13. M. Robin Dion, "undated". "Healthy Marriage Programs: Learning What Works," Mathematica Policy Research Reports 700e2d88f10b4f079d504806a, Mathematica Policy Research.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination

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