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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.

Suggested Citation

  • 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:

    1. 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.
    2. Gerard van den Berg & Michele Tertilt, 2012. "Domestic Violence over the Business Cycle," 2012 Meeting Papers 1171, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    3. 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.
    4. 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.
    5. repec:kap:reveho:v:17:y:2019:i:1:d:10.1007_s11150-017-9362-4 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Kabátek, Jan, 2019. "Divorced in a Flash: The Effect of the Administrative Divorce Option on Marital Stability in the Netherlands," IZA Discussion Papers 12150, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    7. Perova,Elizaveta & Reynolds,Sarah, 2015. "Women?s police stations and domestic violence : evidence from Brazil," Policy Research Working Paper Series 7497, The World Bank.
    8. 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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