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Divorce and the Excess Burden of Lawyers

  • Halla, Martin


    (University of Innsbruck)

We present a model where divorcing spouses can choose to hire lawyers in their divorce process. Spouses encounter incentives as in the classical prisoners’ dilemma: Despite the zero sum nature of the game and the lawyers’ fees, each spouse has an incentive to hire a lawyer. We propose a simple institutional setting allowing for joint lawyers in order to overcome this socially inefficient situation. This model is estimated and tested with rich micro-data from court records. Employing a multiple treatment matching procedure we estimate the causal effect of lawyers on the division of matrimonial property, on the length of the divorce process and on the quality of the divorce settlement.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 2962.

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Length: 38 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp2962
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  1. Ashenfelter, O. & Bloom, D., 1990. "Lawyers As Agents Of The Devil In A Prisoner'S Dilemma Game," Papers 57, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Discussion Paper.
  2. Orley Ashenfelter & Janet Currie & Henry S. Farber & Matthew Spiegel, 1990. "An Experimental Comparison of Dispute Rates in Alternative Arbitration Systems," Working Papers 647, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  3. Jonathan Gardner & Andrew J. Oswald, 2006. "Do divorcing couples become happier by breaking up?," Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series A, Royal Statistical Society, vol. 169(2), pages 319-336.
  4. Shavell, Steven, 1995. "Alternative Dispute Resolution: An Economic Analysis," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(1), pages 1-28, January.
  5. Andreoni, J. & Miller, J.H., 1991. "Rational Cooperative in the Finitely Repeated Prisoner's Dilemma: Experimental Evidence," Working papers 9102, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
  6. Becker, Gary S & Landes, Elisabeth M & Michael, Robert T, 1977. "An Economic Analysis of Marital Instability," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(6), pages 1141-87, December.
  7. Orley Ashenfelter & Gordon B. Dahl, 2012. "Bargaining and the Role of Expert Agents: An Empirical Study of Final-Offer Arbitration," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 94(1), pages 116-132, February.
  8. Casella, Alessandra, 1996. "On market integration and the development of institutions: The case of international commercial arbitration," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 155-186, January.
  9. Michael Lechner, 2002. "Program Heterogeneity And Propensity Score Matching: An Application To The Evaluation Of Active Labor Market Policies," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 84(2), pages 205-220, May.
  10. Daniel F. Rubinfeld & Suzanne Scotchmer, 1993. "Contingent Fees for Attorneys: An Economic Analysis," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 24(3), pages 343-356, Autumn.
  11. Yoram Weiss & Robert J. Willis, . "Match Quality, New Information and Marital Dissolution," University of Chicago - Population Research Center 95-13, Chicago - Population Research Center.
  12. Cooter, Robert D & Rubinfeld, Daniel L, 1989. "Economic Analysis of Legal Disputes and Their Resolution," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 27(3), pages 1067-97, September.
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