IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

On unilateral divorce and the “selection of marriages” hypothesis


  • Eric Langlais

    (University of Nancy 2, UFR AES ; Economix-CNRS and CEREFIGE - Nancy)


In this paper, the unilateral divorce law is modelled trough the combination of exclusive rights on the marriage dissolution and alternative compensation rules benefiting to the parent having custody of the children. Their influence are studied both in the short run (probability and efficiency of divorce and in the long run (selection of marriages). We show that a decrease in the costs of divorce proceedings has by no means commonplace consequences on the marriage contracting; particularly when consideration of parents' altruism and child support is introduced, more marriages are contracted when the cost of divorces decreases.

Suggested Citation

  • Eric Langlais, 2010. "On unilateral divorce and the “selection of marriages” hypothesis," Discussion Papers (REL - Recherches Economiques de Louvain) 2010031, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES).
  • Handle: RePEc:ctl:louvre:2010031

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Bruno Deffains & Eric Langlais, 2006. "Incentives to cooperate and the discretionary power of courts in divorce law," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 4(4), pages 423-439, December.
    2. Stéphane Mechoulan, 2005. "“Economic Theory’s Stance On No-Fault Divorce”," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 3(3), pages 337-359, September.
    3. Giulio Fella & Paola Manzini & Marco Mariotti, 2004. "Does Divorce Law Matter?," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 2(4), pages 607-633, June.
    4. Rainer, Helmut, 2007. "Should we write prenuptial contracts?," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 51(2), pages 337-363, February.
    5. 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.
    6. Dominique Anxo & Lennart Flood & Yusuf Kocoglu, 2002. "Offre de travail et répartition des activités domestiques et parentales au sein du couple : une comparaison entre la France et la Suède," Économie et Statistique, Programme National Persée, vol. 352(1), pages 127-150.
    7. Katarina Nordblom, 2004. "Cohabitation and Marriage in a Risky World," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 2(3), pages 325-340, April.
    8. Weiss, Yoram & Willis, Robert J, 1997. "Match Quality, New Information, and Marital Dissolution," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(1), pages 293-329, January.
    9. Becker, Gary S & Landes, Elisabeth M & Michael, Robert T, 1977. "An Economic Analysis of Marital Instability," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(6), pages 1141-1187, December.
    10. Abraham L. Wickelgren, 2009. "Why Divorce Laws Matter: Incentives for Noncontractible Marital Investments under Unilateral and Consent Divorce," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 25(1), pages 80-106, May.
    11. 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.
    12. Binner, Jane M & Dnes, Antony W, 2001. "Marriage, Divorce, and Legal Change: New Evidence from England and Wales," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 39(2), pages 298-306, April.
    13. Bowles, Roger & Garoupa, Nuno, 2002. "Household dissolution, child care and divorce law," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(4), pages 495-510, December.
    14. Stéphane Mechoulan, 2006. "Divorce Laws and the Structure of the American Family," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 35(1), pages 143-174, January.
    15. Élise Amar & Sophie Guérin, 2007. "Se marier ou non : le droit fiscal peut-il aider à choisir ?," Économie et Statistique, Programme National Persée, vol. 401(1), pages 23-37.
    16. Smith, Ian, 1997. "Explaining the Growth of Divorce in Great Britain," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 44(5), pages 519-544, November.
    17. repec:cai:poeine:pope_703_0417 is not listed on IDEAS
    18. Jonathan Gardner & Andrew J. Oswald, 2006. "Do divorcing couples become happier by breaking up?," Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series A, Royal Statistical Society, vol. 169(2), pages 319-336.
    19. 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.
    20. Clark, Simon, 1999. "Law, Property, and Marital Dissolution," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 109(454), pages 41-54, March.
    21. François Legendre & Florence Thibault, 2007. "Les concubins et l’impôt sur le revenu en France," Économie et Statistique, Programme National Persée, vol. 401(1), pages 3-21.
    22. Brinig, Margaret F & Crafton, Steven M, 1994. "Marriage and Opportunism," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 23(2), pages 869-894, June.
    23. Antony Dnes, "undated". "The Life-profile Theory of Marriage, Cohabitation, and Same-sex Marriage," American Law & Economics Association Annual Meetings 1079, American Law & Economics Association.
    24. Parkman, Allen M., 1998. "Why Are Married Women Working So Hard?," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 41-49, March.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Stefania Marcassa, 2011. "Divorce Laws and Divorce Rate in the U.S," Working Papers 2011-009, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.
    2. Fisher, H., 2011. "Divorce Property Division and the Decision to Marry or Cohabit," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 1101, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.

    More about this item


    marriage models; unilateral divorce law; the parents’ altruism and protective measure for children;

    JEL classification:

    • D1 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior
    • K10 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - General (Constitutional Law)
    • K12 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - Contract Law
    • K41 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Litigation Process
    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure


    Access and download statistics


    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:ctl:louvre:2010031. 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: (Sebastien SCHILLINGS). 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 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.

    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.