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Where Did It Go Wrong? Marriage and Divorce in Malawi

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  • Cherchye, Laurens

    (KU Leuven)

  • De Rock, Bram

    (ECARES, Free University of Brussels)

  • Walther, Selma
  • Vermeulen, Frederic

    (KU Leuven)

Abstract

Do individuals divorce for economic reasons? Can we measure the attractiveness of new matches in the marriage market? We answer these questions using a structural model of the household and a rich panel dataset from Malawi. We propose a model of the household with consumption, production and revealed preference conditions for stability on the marriage market. We define marital instability in terms of the consumption gains to remarrying another individual in the same marriage market, and to being single. We find that a 1 percentage point increase in the wife's estimated consumption gains from remarriage is significantly associated with a 0:6 percentage point increase in divorce probability in the next three years. In a multinomial model, higher values of consumption gains from remarriage raise the odds of divorce and remarriage but not of divorce and singleness. These findings provide out-of-sample validation of the structural model and shed new light on the economic determinants of divorce.

Suggested Citation

  • Cherchye, Laurens & De Rock, Bram & Walther, Selma & Vermeulen, Frederic, 2016. "Where Did It Go Wrong? Marriage and Divorce in Malawi," IZA Discussion Papers 9843, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp9843
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    2. Shyamal Chowdhury & Debdulal Mallick & Prabal Roy Chowdhury, 2017. "Natural Shock and Marriage Markets: Evolution of Mehr and Dowry in Muslim Marriages," Discussion Papers 17-02, Indian Statistical Institute, Delhi.
    3. Djuikom, Marie Albertine & van de Walle, Dominique, 2022. "Marital status and women’s nutrition in Africa," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 158(C).
    4. Mikhail Freer & Khushboo Surana, 2021. "Revealed preference characterization of marital stability under mutual consent divorce," Papers 2110.10781, arXiv.org, revised Jan 2023.
    5. Chowdhury, Shyamal & Mallick, Debdulal & Roy Chowdhury, Prabal, 2020. "Natural shocks and marriage markets: Fluctuations in mehr and dowry in Muslim marriages," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 128(C).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    marriage market; divorce; Malawi; agricultural production; revealed preference;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D11 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Theory
    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • D13 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Production and Intrahouse Allocation
    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure

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