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The Divorce Revolution and Generalized Trust: Evidence from the United States 1973-2010

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  • Viitanen, Tarja

    () (University of Otago)

Abstract

This paper examines the effect of exposure to a culture of easier divorce as a minor on generalized trust using the General Social Survey from 1973-2010. The easier divorce culture is defined as the introduction of no-fault including unilateral divorce reforms across the US. According to the results, the divorce revolution seems to have had some effect on trust levels across the US. While there are no discernible effects for the whole sample of men, there are statistically significant effects for women with an additional year of exposure being associated with a 4 percentage point lower generalized trust in the states with easy divorce culture compared to states with fault based divorce culture. An analysis by sub-group of women indicates that married and divorced/separated women have significantly lower levels of trust associated with exposure to easy divorce culture as a child. The findings are in agreement with the predictions of previous literature regarding no-fault divorce reforms reducing the security offered by marriage, in particular for women.

Suggested Citation

  • Viitanen, Tarja, 2014. "The Divorce Revolution and Generalized Trust: Evidence from the United States 1973-2010," IZA Discussion Papers 7966, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp7966
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    Keywords

    trust; GSS; panel data analysis; divorce laws;

    JEL classification:

    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure
    • K36 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law - - - Family and Personal Law
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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