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The Impact of Unilateral Divorce on Crime

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  • Cáceres-Delpiano, Julio

    () (Universidad Carlos III de Madrid)

  • Giolito, Eugenio

    () (Universidad Alberto Hurtado)

Abstract

In this paper, we evaluate the impact of unilateral divorce on crime. First, using crime rates from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report program for the period 1965-1998 and differences in the timing in the introduction of the reform, we find that unilateral divorce has a positive impact on violent crime rates, with an 8% to 12% average increase for the period under consideration. Second, arrest data not only confirms the findings of a positive impact on violent crime but also shows that this impact is concentrated among those age groups (15 to 24) that are more likely to engage in these type of offenses. Specifically, for the age group 15-19, we observe an average impact over the period under analysis of 40% and 36% for murder and aggravated assault arrest rates, respectively. Disaggregating total arrest rates by race, we find that the effects are driven by the Black sub-sample. Third, using the age at the time of the divorce law reform as a second source of variation to analyze age-specific arrest rates we confirm the positive impact on the different types of violent crime as well as a positive impact for property crime rates, controlling for all confounding factors that may operate at the state-year, state age or age-year level. The results for murder arrests and for homicide rates (Supplemental Homicide Report) for the 15-24 age groups are robust with respect to specifications and specifically those that include year-state and year-age dummies. The magnitude goes from 15% to 40% depending on the specification and the age at the time of the reform.

Suggested Citation

  • Cáceres-Delpiano, Julio & Giolito, Eugenio, 2008. "The Impact of Unilateral Divorce on Crime," IZA Discussion Papers 3380, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp3380
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    1. Cuffe, Harold E. & Waddell, Glen R. & Bignell, Wesley, 2014. "Too Busy for School? The Effect of Athletic Participation on Absenteeism," IZA Discussion Papers 8426, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    2. Libertad Gonzalez, 2014. "Should divorce be easier or harder?," IZA World of Labor, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA), pages 113-113, December.
    3. Yen-Chien Chen & Elliott Fan & Jin-Tan Liu, 2019. "Understanding the Mechanisms of Parental Divorce Effects on Child’s Higher Education," NBER Working Papers 25886, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Jennifer Roff, 2017. "Cleaning in the Shadow of the Law? Bargaining, Marital Investment, and the Impact of Divorce Law on Husbands' Intrahousehold Work," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 60(1), pages 115-134.
    5. Edith Aguirre, 2019. "Do changes in divorce legislation have an impact on divorce rates? The case of unilateral divorce in Mexico," Latin American Economic Review, Springer;Centro de Investigaciòn y Docencia Económica (CIDE), vol. 28(1), pages 1-24, December.
    6. Steffen Reinhold & Thorsten Kneip & Gerrit Bauer, 2013. "The long run consequences of unilateral divorce laws on children—evidence from SHARELIFE," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 26(3), pages 1035-1056, July.
    7. Pablo Brassiolo, 2016. "Domestic Violence and Divorce Law: When Divorce Threats Become Credible," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 34(2), pages 443-477.
    8. Geir Wæhler Gustavsen & Rodolfo M. Nayga & Ximing Wu, 2016. "Effects of Parental Divorce on Teenage Children’s Risk Behaviors: Incidence and Persistence," Journal of Family and Economic Issues, Springer, vol. 37(3), pages 474-487, September.
    9. Karin Hederos Eriksson & Randi Hjalmarsson & Matthew J. Lindquist & Anna Sandberg, 2016. "The importance of family background and neighborhood effects as determinants of crime," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 29(1), pages 219-262, January.
    10. Chigavazira, Abraham & Fisher, Hayley & Robinson, Tim & Zhu, Anna, 2019. "The Consequences of Extending Equitable Property Division Divorce Laws to Cohabitants," IZA Discussion Papers 12102, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    11. Ho-Po Crystal WONG, 2016. "Credible Commitments and Marriage: When the Homemaker Gets her Share at Divorce," JODE - Journal of Demographic Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 82(3), pages 241-279, September.
    12. Hope Corman & Kelly Noonan & Nancy E. Reichman & Ofira Schwartz-Soicher, 2006. "Crime and Circumstance: The Effects of Infant Health Shocks on Fathers' Criminal Activity," Working Papers 913, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Research on Child Wellbeing..
    13. Hope Corman & Kelly Noonan & Nancy Reichman & Ofira Schwartz-Soicher, 2011. "Life Shocks and Crime: A Test of the “Turning Point” Hypothesis," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 48(3), pages 1177-1202, August.
    14. repec:pri:crcwel:wp06-35-ff is not listed on IDEAS
    15. Alexander, Adam C. & Chen, Weiyu & Ward, Kenneth D., 2018. "Is intelligence associated with mortality from lethal force by law enforcement?," Intelligence, Elsevier, vol. 70(C), pages 30-35.
    16. Shen, Danqing, 2018. "Marriage, Divorce and Sorting: A Reassessment of Unilateral Divorce Laws," MPRA Paper 92848, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    17. Seth G. Sanders, 2010. "Crime and the Family: Lessons from Teenage Childbearing," NBER Chapters, in: Controlling Crime: Strategies and Tradeoffs, pages 573-598, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    18. Cáceres-Delpiano, Julio & Simonsen, Marianne, 2012. "The toll of fertility on mothers’ wellbeing," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(5), pages 752-766.
    19. Cáceres-Delpiano, Julio & Giolito, Eugenio, 2008. "How Unilateral Divorce Affects Children," IZA Discussion Papers 3342, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    20. Iljoong Kim & Jaewook Byeon, 2017. "Discretionary prosecution of regulatory crimes: disproportionate emphasis and consequences to other serious crimes," Asia-Pacific Journal of Regional Science, Springer, vol. 1(2), pages 559-587, October.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    crime rates; unilateral divorce; arrest rates;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth

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