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Divorce and the Excess Burden of Lawyers

We present a model where divorcing spouses can choose to hire lawyers in their divorce process. Spouses encounter incentives as in the classical prisoners’ dilemma: Despite the zero sum nature of the game and the lawyers’ fees, each spouse has an incentive to hire a lawyer. We propose a simple institutional setting allowing for joint lawyers in order to overcome this socially inefficient situation. This model is estimated and tested with rich micro-data from court records. Employing a multiple treatment matching procedure we estimate the causal effect of lawyers on the division of matrimonial property, on the length of the divorce process and on the quality of the divorce settlement.

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File URL: http://www.econ.jku.at/papers/2007/wp0713.pdf
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Paper provided by Department of Economics, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria in its series Economics working papers with number 2007-13.

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Date of creation: Jul 2007
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Handle: RePEc:jku:econwp:2007_13
Contact details of provider: Fax: +43 732-2468-8238
Web page: http://www.econ.jku.at/

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  1. Casella, Alessandra, 1996. "On market integration and the development of institutions: The case of international commercial arbitration," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 155-186, January.
  2. Gardner, Jonathan & Oswald, Andrew J., 2005. "Do Divorcing Couples Become Happier By Breaking Up?," IZA Discussion Papers 1788, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Orley Ashenfelter & Janet Currie & Henry S. Farber & Matthew Spiegel, 1990. "An Experimental Comparison of Dispute Rates in Alternative Arbitration Systems," NBER Working Papers 3417, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Orley Ashenfelter & David E. Bloom & Gordon B. Dahl, 2013. "Lawyers as Agents of the Devil in a Prisoner's Dilemma Game," Working Papers 1451, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  5. Becker, Gary S & Landes, Elisabeth M & Michael, Robert T, 1977. "An Economic Analysis of Marital Instability," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(6), pages 1141-87, December.
  6. Weiss, Y. & Willis, R.J., 1995. "Match Quality, New Information and Marital Dissolution," Papers 33-95, Tel Aviv - the Sackler Institute of Economic Studies.
  7. Shavell, Steven, 1995. "Alternative Dispute Resolution: An Economic Analysis," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(1), pages 1-28, January.
  8. Michael Lechner, 2002. "Program Heterogeneity And Propensity Score Matching: An Application To The Evaluation Of Active Labor Market Policies," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 84(2), pages 205-220, May.
  9. Orley Ashenfelter & Gordon B. Dahl, 2012. "Bargaining and the Role of Expert Agents: An Empirical Study of Final-Offer Arbitration," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 94(1), pages 116-132, February.
  10. James Andreoni & John H Miller, 1997. "Rational Cooperation in the finitely repeated prisoner's dilemma: experimental evidence," Levine's Working Paper Archive 670, David K. Levine.
  11. Daniel F. Rubinfeld & Suzanne Scotchmer, 1993. "Contingent Fees for Attorneys: An Economic Analysis," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 24(3), pages 343-356, Autumn.
  12. Cooter, Robert D & Rubinfeld, Daniel L, 1989. "Economic Analysis of Legal Disputes and Their Resolution," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 27(3), pages 1067-97, September.
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