Did Unilateral Divorce Laws Raise Divorce Rates? A Reconciliation and New Results
Application of the Coase Theorem to marital bargaining suggests that shifting from a consent divorce regime to no-fault unilateral divorce laws should not affect divorce rates. Each iteration of the empirical literature examining the evolution of divorce rates across US states has yielded different conclusions about the effects of divorce law liberalization. I show that these results reflect a failure to jointly consider both the political endogeneity of these divorce laws and the dynamic response of divorce rates to a shock to the political regime. Taking explicit account of the dynamic response of divorce rates to the policy shock, I find that liberalized divorce laws caused a discernible rise in divorce rates for about a decade, but that this increase was substantially reversed over the next decade. That said, this increase explains very little of the rise in the divorce rate over the past half century. Both administrative data on the flow of new divorces, and measures of the stock of divorcees from the census support this conclusion. These results are suggestive of spouses bargaining within marriage, with an eye to their partner's divorce threat.
|Date of creation:||Aug 2003|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305-5015|
Phone: (650) 723-2146
Web page: http://gsbapps.stanford.edu/researchpapers/
More information through EDIRC
References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Gary S. Becker, 1981. "A Treatise on the Family," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number beck81-1, April.
- 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.
- Peters, H Elizabeth, 1992. "Marriage and Divorce: Reply," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(3), pages 687-693, June.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Marianne Bertrand & Esther Duflo & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2002. "How Much Should We Trust Differences-in-Differences Estimates?," NBER Working Papers 8841, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- StÃ©phane 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, 01.
- Stéphane Mechoulan, 2006. "Divorce Laws and the Structure of the American Family," Working Papers tecipa-245, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
- Leora Friedberg, 1998. "Did Unilateral Divorce Raise Divorce Rates? Evidence from Panel Data," NBER Working Papers 6398, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Dewald, William G & Thursby, Jerry G & Anderson, Richard G, 1986. "Replication in Empirical Economics: The Journal of Money, Credit and Banking Project," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(4), pages 587-603, September.
- H. D. Vinod & B. D. McCullough, 1999. "The Numerical Reliability of Econometric Software," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(2), pages 633-665, June.
- Jonathan Gruber, 2000. "Is Making Divorce Easier Bad for Children? The Long Run Implications of Unilateral Divorce," NBER Working Papers 7968, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Allen, Douglas W, 1992. "Marriage and Divorce: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(3), pages 679-685, June.
- Rowthorn, Robert, 1999. "Marriage and Trust: Some Lessons from Economics," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 23(5), pages 661-691, September.
- Brinig, Margaret F. & Buckley, F. H., 1998. "No-fault laws and at-fault people," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(3), pages 325-340, September. Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)
This item is featured on the following reading lists or Wikipedia pages:
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ecl:stabus:1819. 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: ()
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 references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link 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 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.