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The Fragility of Estimated Effects of Unilateral Divorce Laws on Divorce Rates

  • Jin Young Lee
  • Gary Solon

Following an influential article by Friedberg (1998), Wolfers (2006) explored the sensitivity of Friedberg's results to allowing for dynamics in the response of divorce rates to the adoption of unilateral divorce laws. We in turn explore the sensitivity of Wolfers's results to variations in estimation method and functional form, and we find that the results are extremely fragile. We conclude first that the impact of unilateral divorce laws remains unclear. Second, extending Wolfers's methodological insight about sensitivity of differences-in-differences estimation to allowance for dynamic response, we suggest that identification in differences-in-differences research becomes weaker in the presence of dynamics, especially in the presence of unit-specific time trends.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w16773.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 16773.

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Date of creation: Feb 2011
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Publication status: published as Jin Young Lee & Gary Solon, 2011. "The Fragility of Estimated Effects of Unilateral Divorce Laws on Divorce Rates," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, Berkeley Electronic Press, vol. 11(1), pages 49.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16773
Note: LE LS
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  1. Vogelsang, Timothy J., 2012. "Heteroskedasticity, autocorrelation, and spatial correlation robust inference in linear panel models with fixed-effects," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 166(2), pages 303-319.
  2. Stevenson, Betsey & Wolfers, Justin, 2007. "Marriage and Divorce: Changes and their Driving Forces," CEPR Discussion Papers 6144, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Wolfers, Justin, 2003. "Did Unilateral Divorce Laws Raise Divorce Rates? A Reconciliation and New Results," Research Papers 1819, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
  4. Leora Friedberg, 1998. "Did Unilateral Divorce Raise Divorce Rates? Evidence from Panel Data," NBER Working Papers 6398, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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