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Divorce Law and Women's Labor Supply

  • Betsey Stevenson

Divorce law changes made in the 1970s affected marital formation, dissolution, and bargaining within marriage. By altering the terms of the marital contract these legal changes impacted the incentives for women to enter and remain in the labor force. Whereas earlier work had suggested that the impact of unilateral divorce on female employment depended critically on laws governing property division, I show that these results are not robust to alternative specifications and controls. I find instead that unilateral divorce led to an increase in both married and unmarried female labor force participation, regardless of the pre-existing laws regarding property division.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 14346.

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Date of creation: Sep 2008
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Publication status: published as Divorce Law and Women's Labor Supply Betsey Stevenson* Article first published online: 3 DEC 2008 DOI: 10.1111/j.1740-1461.2008.00143.x © 2008, Copyright the Author. Journal compilation © 2008, Cornell Law School and Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Issue Journal of Empirical Legal Studies Journal of Empirical Legal Studies Volume 5, Issue 4, pages 853–873, December 2008
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14346
Note: DAE LE LS
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  1. Pierre-André Chiappori & Bernard Fortin & Guy Lacroix, 2001. "Marriage Market, Divorce Legislation and Household Labor Supply," CIRANO Working Papers 2001s-16, CIRANO.
  2. 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.
  3. Gray, Jeffrey S, 1998. "Divorce-Law Changes, Household Bargaining, and Married Women's Labor Supply," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(3), pages 628-42, June.
  4. Betsey Stevenson & Justin Wolfers, 2006. "Bargaining in the Shadow of the Law: Divorce Laws and Family Distress," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 121(1), pages 267-288, 02.
  5. Shelly Lundberg & Elaina Rose, 1999. "The Determinants of Specialization within Marriage," Working Papers UWEC-2005-07, University of Washington, Department of Economics.
  6. Johnson, William R & Skinner, Jonathan, 1986. "Labor Supply and Marital Separation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(3), pages 455-69, June.
  7. Leora Friedberg, 1998. "Did Unilateral Divorce Raise Divorce Rates? Evidence from Panel Data," NBER Working Papers 6398, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Scott Drewianka, 2008. "Divorce law and family formation," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 21(2), pages 485-503, April.
  9. Imran Rasul, 2006. "Marriage Markets and Divorce Laws," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 22(1), pages 30-69, April.
  10. Ellman, Ira Mark & Lohr, Sharon L., 1998. "Dissolving the relationship between divorce laws and divorce rates," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(3), pages 341-359, September.
  11. Niko Matouschek & Imran Rasul, 2008. "The Economics of the Marriage Contract: Theories and Evidence," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 51(1), pages 59-110, 02.
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