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Does Divorce Law Matter?


  • Fella, Giulio

    () (Queen Mary, University of London)

  • Manzini, Paola

    () (University of Sussex)

  • Mariotti, Marco

    () (Queen Mary, University of London)


In this paper we derive an explicit model of negotiations between spouses when utility is (partially) transferable only in case of separation. We show that inefficient separation may occur in equilibrium even under consensual divorce law. This provides theoretical support for the view that changes in social norms rather than in legislation may be responsible for increasing divorce rates.

Suggested Citation

  • Fella, Giulio & Manzini, Paola & Mariotti, Marco, 2002. "Does Divorce Law Matter?," IZA Discussion Papers 439, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp439

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Brishti Guha, 2012. "Divorce Laws, Sex Ratios and the Marriage Market," Working Papers 19-2012, Singapore Management University, School of Economics.
    2. Almudena Sevilla-Sanz, 2005. "Social Effects, Household Time Allocation, and the Decline in Union Formation: Working Paper 2005-07," Working Papers 16517, Congressional Budget Office.
    3. Éric Langlais, 2010. "On unilateral divorce and the “selection of marriages” hypothesis," Recherches économiques de Louvain, De Boeck Université, vol. 76(3), pages 229-256.
    4. Leora Friedberg & Steven Stern, 2014. "Marriage, Divorce, And Asymmetric Information," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 55, pages 1155-1199, November.
    5. Bargain, Olivier & González, Libertad & Keane, Claire & Özcan, Berkay, 2012. "Female labor supply and divorce: New evidence from Ireland," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 56(8), pages 1675-1691.
    6. Marco Francesconi & Helmut Rainer & Wilbert vanderKlaauw, 2009. "The Effects of In-Work Benefit Reform in Britain on Couples: Theory and Evidence," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 119(535), pages 66-100, February.
    7. Raphaela Hyee, 2011. "Education in a Marriage Market Model without Commitment," Working Papers 683, Queen Mary University of London, School of Economics and Finance.
    8. González, Libertad & Viitanen, Tarja K., 2009. "The effect of divorce laws on divorce rates in Europe," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 53(2), pages 127-138, February.
    9. Sigve Tjøtta & Kjell Vaage, 2008. "Public transfers and marital dissolution," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 21(2), pages 419-437, April.
    10. Alessandro Cigno, 2014. "Is Marriage as Good as a Contract?," CESifo Economic Studies, CESifo, vol. 60(3), pages 599-612.
    11. Fisher, H., 2011. "Divorce Property Division and the Decision to Marry or Cohabit," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 1101, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
    12. Akiko Maruyama & Takashi Shimizu & Kazuhiro Yamamoto, 2009. "Exit and Voice in a Marriage Market," Discussion Papers in Economics and Business 09-04, Osaka University, Graduate School of Economics and Osaka School of International Public Policy (OSIPP).
    13. Smith, Ian, 2007. "Property division on divorce with inequity aversion," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 111-128.
    14. Christine Atteneder & Martin Halla, 2006. "Bargaining at divorce: The allocation of custody," Economics working papers 2006-18, Department of Economics, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria, revised Jan 2007.
    15. Yurko, Anna, 2012. "Costly Divorce and Marriage Rates," MPRA Paper 37810, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    16. Brishti Guha, 2010. "Sex Ratios, Divorce Laws and the Marriage Market," Working Papers 28-2010, Singapore Management University, School of Economics.
    17. Bac, Mehmet, 2016. "The expectation effect of a fall in divorce costs," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 41-47.
    18. Hiller, Victor & Recoules, Magali, 2013. "Changes in divorce patterns: Culture and the law," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(C), pages 77-87.
    19. Rainer, Helmut, 2007. "Should we write prenuptial contracts?," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 51(2), pages 337-363, February.
    20. Alessandro Cigno, 2011. "The Economics of Marriage," Perspektiven der Wirtschaftspolitik, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 12(s1), pages 28-41, May.
    21. Chiappori, Pierre-André & Iyigun, Murat & Weiss, Yoram, 2007. "Public Goods, Transferable Utility and Divorce Laws," IZA Discussion Papers 2646, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    22. Elizabeth Horner, 2014. "Continued Pursuit of Happily Ever After: Low Barriers to Divorce and Happiness," Journal of Family and Economic Issues, Springer, vol. 35(2), pages 228-240, June.
    23. Epstein, Gil S, 2002. "Informational Cascades and Decision to Migrate," CEPR Discussion Papers 3287, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    24. González-Val, Rafael & Marcén, Miriam, 2009. "Breaks in the Breaks: A Time-Series Analysis of Divorce Rates," MPRA Paper 14851, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item


    divorce; non transferability; Bargaining;

    JEL classification:

    • C78 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Bargaining Theory; Matching Theory
    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure

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