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The Impact of Unilateral Divorce on Crime

Using data from the FBI´s Uniform Crime Report program and differences in the timing of the reform’s introduction, we find that unilateral divorce caused an increase in violent crime rates of approximately 9 percent during the period 1965-1996. When we use age at the time of the reform as an additional source of variation, our findings suggest that young adult cohorts, who were children at the time of the reform, were particularly affected. Finally, we show evidence that a potential channel behind our findings is an increase in poverty and inequality among mothers who were “surprised” by the reform.

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Paper provided by Ilades-Georgetown University, Universidad Alberto Hurtado/School of Economics and Bussines in its series ILADES-Georgetown University Working Papers with number inv269.

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Length: 36 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ila:ilades:inv269
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  4. Justin Wolfers, 2006. "Did Unilateral Divorce Laws Raise Divorce Rates? A Reconciliation and New Results," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(5), pages 1802-1820, December.
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  8. John J. Donohue III & Justin Wolfers, 2006. "Uses and Abuses of Empirical Evidence in the Death Penalty Debate," NBER Working Papers 11982, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  13. Alesina, Alberto & Giuliano, Paola, 2006. "Divorce, Fertility and the Shot Gun Marriage," IZA Discussion Papers 2157, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  14. 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.
  15. Alesina, Alberto Francesco & Giuliano, Paola & Nunn, Nathan, 2011. "Fertility and the Plough," Scholarly Articles 11986333, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  16. Christopher L. Foote & Christopher F. Goetz, 2008. "The Impact of Legalized Abortion on Crime: Comment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 123(1), pages 407-423.
  17. Ted Joyce, 2009. "A Simple Test of Abortion and Crime," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 91(1), pages 112-123, February.
  18. Betsey Stevenson & Justin Wolfers, 2003. "Bargaining in the Shadow of the Law: Divorce Laws and Family Distress," NBER Working Papers 10175, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Donohue, John J. & Levitt, Steven D., 2000. "The Impact of Legalized Abortion on Crime," Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics, Working Paper Series qt00p599hk, Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics.
  20. 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.
  21. John J. Donohue III & Steven D. Levitt, 2003. "Further Evidence that Legalized Abortion Lowered Crime: A Reply to Joyce," NBER Working Papers 9532, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  22. Jonathan Gruber, 2004. "Is Making Divorce Easier Bad for Children? The Long-Run Implications of Unilateral Divorce," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 22(4), pages 799-834, October.
  23. Gray, Jeffrey S, 1998. "Divorce-Law Changes, Household Bargaining, and Married Women's Labor Supply," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(3), pages 628-42, June.
  24. Niko Matouschek & Imran Rasul, 2008. "The Economics of the Marriage Contract: Theories and Evidence," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 51(1), pages 59-110, 02.
  25. Leora Friedberg, 1998. "Did Unilateral Divorce Raise Divorce Rates? Evidence from Panel Data," NBER Working Papers 6398, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  26. Thomas S. Dee, 2003. "Until Death Do You Part: The Effects of Unilateral Divorce on Spousal Homicides," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 41(1), pages 163-182, January.
  27. Fajnzylber, Pablo & Lederman, Daniel & Loayza, Norman, 2002. "Inequality and Violent Crime," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 45(1), pages 1-40, April.
  28. Peters, H Elizabeth, 1986. "Marriage and Divorce: Informational Constraints and Private Contracting," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(3), pages 437-54, June.
  29. Stéphane Mechoulan, 2005. "“Economic Theory’s Stance On No-Fault Divorce”," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 3(3), pages 337-359, 09.
  30. Cáceres-Delpiano, Julio & Giolito, Eugenio P., 2008. "How Unilateral Divorce Affects Children," IZA Discussion Papers 3342, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  31. Bedard, Kelly & Deschenes, Olivier, 2003. "Sex Preferences, Marital Dissolution and the Economic Status of Women," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt07g2372x, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
  32. Ted Joyce, 2001. "Did Legalized Abortion Lower Crime?," NBER Working Papers 8319, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  33. John J. Donohue & Steven D. Levitt, 2006. "Measurement Error, Legalized Abortion, and the Decline in Crime: A Response to Foote and Goetz (2005)," NBER Working Papers 11987, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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