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The Effect of Joint Custody on Marriage and Divorce

  • Martin Halla

Since the 1970s almost all states have introduced a form of joint custody after divorce. We analyze the causal effect of these custody law reforms on the incidence of marriage and divorce. Our identification strategy exploits the different timing of reforms across states and the control group of divorcing couples without minors. Estimations based on state panel data suggest that the introduction of joint custody led to a long-run increase in marriage rates. There is no convincing evidence for an impact of joint custody on divorce rates. In sum, joint custody has increased the stock of married people and dampened the persistent downturn in marriage. Our empirical evidence is fully consistent with the supposition that these additional marriages are the result of an increased incentive of men to marry.

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Paper provided by The Austrian Center for Labor Economics and the Analysis of the Welfare State, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria in its series NRN working papers with number 2009-09.

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Length: 41 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:jku:nrnwps:2009_09
Contact details of provider: Postal: NRN Labor Economics and the Welfare State, c/o Rudolf Winter-Ebmer, Altenbergerstr. 69, 4040 Linz
Phone: +43-732-2468-8216
Fax: +43-732-2468-8217
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  1. Alesina, Alberto & Giuliano, Paola, 2006. "Divorce, Fertility and the Shot Gun Marriage," IZA Discussion Papers 2157, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Jonathan Gruber, 2004. "Is Making Divorce Easier Bad for Children? The Long-Run Implications of Unilateral Divorce," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 22(4), pages 799-834, October.
  3. Peters, H Elizabeth, 1992. "Marriage and Divorce: Reply," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(3), pages 687-93, June.
  4. Thomas S. Dee, 2003. "Until Death Do You Part: The Effects of Unilateral Divorce on Spousal Homicides," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 41(1), pages 163-182, January.
  5. A. S. Yelowitz, . "Will Extending Medicaid to Two-Parent Families Encourage Marriage?," Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers 1118-97, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty.
  6. Betsey Stevenson & Justin Wolfers, 2007. "Marriage and Divorce: Changes and their Driving Forces," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(2), pages 27-52, Spring.
  7. Del Boca, Daniela & Ribero, Rocio, 1998. "Transfers in non-intact households," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 9(4), pages 469-478, December.
  8. Imran Rasul, 2006. "Marriage Markets and Divorce Laws," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 22(1), pages 30-69, April.
  9. Michael Baker & Emily Hanna & Jasmin Kantarevic, 2003. "The Married Widow: Marriage Penalties Matter!," NBER Working Papers 9782, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Justin Wolfers, 2006. "Did Unilateral Divorce Laws Raise Divorce Rates? A Reconciliation and New Results," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(5), pages 1802-1820, December.
  11. Peters, H Elizabeth, 1986. "Marriage and Divorce: Informational Constraints and Private Contracting," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(3), pages 437-54, June.
  12. Betsey Stevenson, 2007. "The Impact of Divorce Laws on Marriage-Specific Capital," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 25, pages 75-94.
  13. Katie R. Genadek & Wendy A. Stock & Christiana Stoddard, 2007. "No-Fault Divorce Laws and the Labor Supply of Women with and without Children," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 42(1).
  14. Scott Drewianka, 2008. "Divorce law and family formation," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 21(2), pages 485-503, April.
  15. Betsey Stevenson & Justin Wolfers, 2003. "Bargaining in the Shadow of the Law: Divorce Laws and Family Distress," NBER Working Papers 10175, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Cáceres-Delpiano, Julio & Giolito, Eugenio P., 2008. "How Unilateral Divorce Affects Children," IZA Discussion Papers 3342, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  17. Imran Rasul, 2006. "The Economics of Child Custody," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 73(289), pages 1-25, 02.
  18. Weiss, Yoram & Willis, Robert J, 1985. "Children as Collective Goods and Divorce Settlements," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(3), pages 268-92, July.
  19. Maria Cancian & Daniel Meyer, 1998. "Who gets custody?," Demography, Springer, vol. 35(2), pages 147-157, May.
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