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The Consequences of Extending Equitable Property Division Divorce Laws to Cohabitants

Author

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  • Abraham Chigavazira

    (Melbourne Institute: Applied Economic & Social Research, The University of Melbourne)

  • Hayley Fisher

    (University of Sydney)

  • Tim Robinson

    (Melbourne Institute: Applied Economic & Social Research, The University of Melbourne)

  • Anna Zhu

    (Melbourne Institute: Applied Economic & Social Research, The University of Melbourne)

Abstract

This paper analyses the effect of extending equitable property division divorce laws to unmarried cohabiting couples in Australia. Using a triple-difference fixed effects approach we show that existing couples are more likely to make relationship-specific investments after being exposed to laws enabling the equitable redistribution of property in the event of relationship breakdown. In affected couples we find that men increase their employment and women increase time spent on housework. Couples have more children and are more likely to become home owners. These results demonstrate the causal effect of property division laws on relationship-specific investments and inform the ongoing international debate about the appropriate legal treatment of unmarried cohabiting couples.

Suggested Citation

  • Abraham Chigavazira & Hayley Fisher & Tim Robinson & Anna Zhu, 2019. "The Consequences of Extending Equitable Property Division Divorce Laws to Cohabitants," Melbourne Institute Working Paper Series wp2019n03, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne.
  • Handle: RePEc:iae:iaewps:wp2019n03
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    Cited by:

    1. Jeanne Lafortune & Corinne Low, 2020. "Collateralized Marriage," NBER Working Papers 27210, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Fabio Blasutto & Egor Kozlov, 2020. "(Changing) Marriage and Cohabitation Patterns in the US: do Divorce Laws Matter?," 2020 Papers pbl245, Job Market Papers.
    3. Marion Goussé & Marion Leturcq, 2018. "More or less unmarried. The impact of legal settings of cohabitation on labor market outcomes," Working Papers 2018-08, French Institute for Demographic Studies.
    4. Hill Kulu & Júlia Mikolai & Michael J. Thomas & Sergi Vidal & Christine Schnor & Didier Willaert & Fieke H. L. Visser & Clara H. Mulder, 2021. "Separation and Elevated Residential Mobility: A Cross-Country Comparison," European Journal of Population, Springer;European Association for Population Studies, vol. 37(1), pages 121-150, March.
    5. Hill Kulu & Júlia Mikolai & Michael J. Thomas & Sergi Vidal & Christine Schnor & Didier Willaert & Fieke H. L. Visser & Clara H. Mulder, 0. "Separation and Elevated Residential Mobility: A Cross-Country Comparison," European Journal of Population, Springer;European Association for Population Studies, vol. 0, pages 1-30.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    divorce law; cohabitation; relationship-specific investments; HILDA;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure
    • K36 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law - - - Family and Personal Law

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