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Domestic Violence and Divorce Law: When Divorce Threats Become Credible

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  • Brassiolo, Pablo

Abstract

This paper investigates whether lowering the cost of divorce can reduce domestic violence. The cost of divorce influences the bargaining position of spouses, and thus, their behavior within the marriage. This study takes advantage of a large and unexpected reform of the divorce regime in Spain, which allowed for unilateral and no-fault divorce, and eliminated the pre-existing 1-year mandatory separation period, to estimate the causal effects. This reform dramatically reduced the cost of exiting a partnership for married couples, but not for unmarried ones, which favors a differencein-differences identification strategy. This study analyzes several measures of spousal conflict, ranging from self-reported spousal abuse and technical definitions of spousal violence based on recorded behavior, to more extreme measures of well-being such as partner homicide. Results suggest a decline of 27-36 percent in spousal conflict and around 30 percent in extreme partner violence as a consequence of the reform. Moreover, spousal violence has been found to decrease among couples who remain married after the legal modification, which suggests an important role for changes in bargaining within the marriage when divorce becomes a more credible (cheaper) option. The results are not driven by selection and are robust to a variety of checks.

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  • Brassiolo, Pablo, 2014. "Domestic Violence and Divorce Law: When Divorce Threats Become Credible," Research Department working papers 710, CAF Development Bank Of Latinamerica.
  • Handle: RePEc:dbl:dblwop:710
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    Cited by:

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    2. Jan Kabátek, 2018. "Divorced in a Flash: The Effect of the Administrative Divorce Option on Marital Stability in the Netherlands," Melbourne Institute Working Paper Series wp2018n12, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne.
    3. Bruno Cardinale Lagomarsino & Martín Rossi, 2017. "Subsidized Home–ownership Programs, Transaction Costs, and Domestic Violence," Working Papers 129, Universidad de San Andres, Departamento de Economia, revised Apr 2017.
    4. Cristina Bellés-Obreroy & María Lombardi, 2020. "Will you marry me, later? Age-of-marriage laws and child marriage in Mexico," Department of Economics Working Papers wp_gob_2020_11, Universidad Torcuato Di Tella.
    5. Durevall, Dick, 2021. "Gender Policy and Intimate Partner Violence in Colombia," Working Papers in Economics 809, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
    6. Hoehn-Velasco, Lauren & Silverio-Murillo, Adan, 2020. "Do spouses negotiate in the shadow of the law? Evidence from unilateral divorce, suicides, and homicides in Mexico," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 187(C).
    7. Lin-Chi Hsu & Alexander Henke, 2021. "COVID-19, staying at home, and domestic violence," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 19(1), pages 145-155, March.
    8. Alexander Henke & Lin-chi Hsu, 2020. "The gender wage gap, weather, and intimate partner violence," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 18(2), pages 413-429, June.
    9. Akyol, Pelin & Kirdar, Murat G., 2021. "Does Education Really Cause Domestic Violence? Revisiting the Turkish Data," IZA Discussion Papers 14735, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    10. Arenas-Arroyo, Esther & Fernández-Kranz, Daniel & Nollenberger, Natalia, 2020. "Can't Leave You Now! Intimate Partner Violence under Forced Coexistence and Economic Uncertainty," IZA Discussion Papers 13570, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    11. Gerard van den Berg & Michele Tertilt, 2012. "Domestic Violence over the Business Cycle," 2012 Meeting Papers 1171, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    12. 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.
    13. Gustavo J Bobonis & Roberto Castro & Juan S Morales, 2020. "Legal Reforms, Conditional Cash Transfers, and Intimate Partner Violence: Evidence from Mexico," Working Papers tecipa-678, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
    14. 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.
    15. García-Ramos, Aixa, 2021. "Divorce laws and intimate partner violence: Evidence from Mexico," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 150(C).
    16. Trinidad Beleche, 2019. "Domestic violence laws and suicide in Mexico," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 17(1), pages 229-248, March.
    17. Arenas-Arroyo, Esther & Fernandez-Kranz, Daniel & Nollenberger, Natalia, 2021. "Intimate partner violence under forced cohabitation and economic stress: Evidence from the COVID-19 pandemic," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 194(C).
    18. Bhalotra,Sonia R. & Kambhampati,Uma & Rawlings,Samantha & Siddique,Zahra, 2020. "Intimate Partner Violence : The Influence of Job Opportunities for Men and Women," Policy Research Working Paper Series 9118, The World Bank.
    19. Julia Bredtmann & Christina Vonnahme, 2019. "Less money after divorce – how the 2008 alimony reform in Germany affected spouses’ labor supply, leisure and marital stability," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 17(4), pages 1191-1223, December.
    20. Perova,Elizaveta & Reynolds,Sarah, 2015. "Women?s police stations and domestic violence : evidence from Brazil," Policy Research Working Paper Series 7497, The World Bank.
    21. Molina, Teresa & Tanaka, Mari, 2020. "Globalization and Female Empowerment: Evidence from Myanmar," IZA Discussion Papers 13957, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    22. Akyol, Pelin & Kirdar, Murat G., 2020. "Does Education Really Cause Domestic Violence? Replication and Reappraisal of "For Better or For Worse? Education and the Prevalence of Domestic Violence in Turkey"," IZA Discussion Papers 14001, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    23. Basiglio, Stefania, 2018. "Essays on financial behaviour of households and firms," Other publications TiSEM c13423c5-8bf2-44a7-baa7-3, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.

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