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Public Goods, Transferable Utility and Divorce Laws

  • Chiappori, Pierre-André

    ()

    (Columbia University)

  • Iyigun, Murat

    ()

    (University of Colorado, Boulder)

  • Weiss, Yoram

    ()

    (Tel Aviv University)

We reconsider the well known Becker-Coase (BC) argument, according to which changes in divorce laws should not affect divorce rates, in the context of households which consume public goods in addition to private goods. For this result to hold, utility must be transferable both within marriage and upon divorce, and the marginal rate of substitution between public and private consumption needs to be invariant in marital status. We develop a model in which couples consume public goods and show that if divorce alters the way some goods are consumed (either because some goods that are public in marriage become private in divorce or because divorce affects the marginal rate of substitution between public and private goods), then the Becker-Coase theorem holds only under strict quasi-linearity. We conclude that, in general, divorce laws will influence the divorce rate, although the impact of a change in divorce laws can go in either direction.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 2646.

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Length: 41 pages
Date of creation: Feb 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp2646
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  1. Gary S. Becker, . "Fertility and the Economy," University of Chicago - Population Research Center 92-3, Chicago - Population Research Center.
  2. 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.
  3. Lundberg, S.J. & Pollak, R.A. & Wales, T.J., 1994. "Do Husbands and Wives Pool Their Resources? Evidence from U.K. Child Benefit," Working Papers 94-6, University of Washington, Department of Economics.
  4. Thomas, D., 1989. "Intra-Household Resource Allocation: An Inferential Approach," Papers 586, Yale - Economic Growth Center.
  5. 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.
  6. Martin Browning & P.A. Chiappori, 1996. "Efficient Intra-Household Allocations - A General Characterization and Empirical Tests," Discussion Papers 96-10, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
  7. Giulio Fella & Paola Manzini & Marco Mariotti, 2004. "Does Divorce Law Matter?," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 2(4), pages 607-633, 06.
  8. Chiappori, P.A. & Ekeland, I., 2006. "The micro economics of group behavior: General characterization," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 130(1), pages 1-26, September.
  9. Leora Friedberg, 1998. "Did Unilateral Divorce Raise Divorce Rates? Evidence from Panel Data," NBER Working Papers 6398, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Bergstrom, Theodore C & Cornes, Richard C, 1983. "Independence of Allocative Efficiency from Distribution in the Theory of Public Goods," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 51(6), pages 1753-65, November.
  11. Clark, Simon, 1999. "Law, Property, and Marital Dissolution," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 109(454), pages C41-54, March.
  12. Stevenson, Betsey & Wolfers, Justin, 2003. "Bargaining in the Shadow of the Law: Divorce Laws and Family Distress," Research Papers 1828, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
  13. Chiappori, Pierre-Andre, 1988. "Rational Household Labor Supply," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(1), pages 63-90, January.
  14. Imran Rasul, 2006. "Marriage Markets and Divorce Laws," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 22(1), pages 30-69, April.
  15. Pierre-André Chiappori & Yoram Weiss, 2007. "Divorce, Remarriage, and Child Support," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 25, pages 37-74.
  16. 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.
  17. Chiappori, P.A., 1989. "Collective Labour Supply and Welfare," DELTA Working Papers 89-07, DELTA (Ecole normale supérieure).
  18. T. Paul Schultz, 1990. "Testing the Neoclassical Model of Family Labor Supply and Fertility," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 25(4), pages 599-634.
  19. Bergstrom, Theodore C, 1999. " Systems of Benevolent Utility Functions," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 1(1), pages 71-100.
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