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How Unilateral Divorce Affects Children

  • Cáceres-Delpiano, Julio

    ()

    (Universidad Carlos III de Madrid)

  • Giolito, Eugenio P.

    ()

    (Universidad Alberto Hurtado)

Using U.S. Census data for the years 1960-1980, we study the impact of unilateral divorce on outcomes of children (age 6-15) and their mothers. We find that the reform increased mothers’ divorce, decreased family income and increased the fraction of mothers below the poverty line. For children, we find not only negative results on investment, measured as the probability that a child goes to a private school, but also on child outcomes, measured by the likelihood of children aged 0-4 being held back in school at the time of the reform. We then analyze outcomes of the same cohorts of children 10 years later, by studying young men and women aged 16-25 using the 1970-1990 U.S. Census. We find an increase in marginality for these cohorts, measured as the probability of living in an institution (men) or the probability of being below the poverty line (women). We find that the impact in outcomes is particularly important for black children and young adults.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 3342.

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Length: 36 pages
Date of creation: Feb 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp3342
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  1. Pierre-Andre Chiappori & Bernard Fortin & Guy Lacroix, 2002. "Marriage Market, Divorce Legislation, and Household Labor Supply," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(1), pages 37-72, February.
  2. Cáceres-Delpiano, Julio & Giolito, Eugenio P., 2008. "The Impact of Unilateral Divorce on Crime," IZA Discussion Papers 3380, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Wolfers, Justin, 2003. "Did Unilateral Divorce Laws Raise Divorce Rates? A Reconciliation and New Results," Research Papers 1819, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
  4. Alberto Alesina & Paola Giuliano, 2006. "Divorce, Fertility and the Shot Gun Marriage," NBER Working Papers 12375, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Manski, C.F. & Sandefur, G.D. & Mclanahan, S. & Powers, D., 1990. "Alternative Estimates Of The Effect Of Family Stucture During Adolescence On Hight School Graduation," Working papers 90-31, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
  6. Betsey Stevenson & Justin Wolfers, 2006. "Bargaining in the Shadow of the Law: Divorce Laws and Family Distress," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(1), pages 267-288.
  7. Brinig, Margaret F & Crafton, Steven M, 1994. "Marriage and Opportunism," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 23(2), pages 869-94, June.
  8. 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.
  9. Plamen Nikolov & Karen Gardiner & Mike Fishman, 2003. "State Policies to promote marriage," HEW 0306003, EconWPA.
  10. Akerlof, George A, 1998. "Men without Children," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 108(447), pages 287-309, March.
  11. Weiss, Yoram & Willis, Robert J, 1997. "Match Quality, New Information, and Marital Dissolution," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(1), pages S293-329, January.
  12. Stéphane 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.
  13. Leora Friedberg, 1998. "Did Unilateral Divorce Raise Divorce Rates? Evidence from Panel Data," NBER Working Papers 6398, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Marianne E. Page & Ann Huff Stevens, 2004. "The Economic Consequences of Absent Parents," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(1).
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
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