IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/nbr/nberwo/20251.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Free to Leave? A Welfare Analysis of Divorce Regimes

Author

Listed:
  • Raquel Fernández
  • Joyce Cheng Wong

Abstract

During the 1970s the US underwent an important change in its divorce laws, switching from mutual consent to a unilateral divorce regime. Who benefitted and who lost from this change? To answer this question we develop a dynamic life-cycle model in which agents make consumption, saving, labor force participation (LFP), and marriage and divorce decisions subject to several shocks and given a particular divorce regime. We calibrate the model using statistics relevant to the life-cycle of the 1940 cohort. Conditioning solely on gender, our ex ante welfare analysis finds that women would fare better under mutual consent whereas men would prefer a unilateral system. Once we condition not only on gender but also on initial productivity, we find that men in the top three quintiles of the initial productivity distribution are made better off by a unilateral system as are the top two quintiles of women; the rest prefer mutual consent. We also find that although the change in divorce regime had only a small effect on the LFP of married women in the 1940 cohort, these effects would be considerably larger for a cohort who lived its entire life under a unilateral divorce system.

Suggested Citation

  • Raquel Fernández & Joyce Cheng Wong, 2014. "Free to Leave? A Welfare Analysis of Divorce Regimes," NBER Working Papers 20251, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:20251
    Note: EFG POL
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w20251.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Jeremy Greenwood & Nezih Guner & Georgi Kocharkov & Cezar Santos, 2016. "Technology and the Changing Family: A Unified Model of Marriage, Divorce, Educational Attainment, and Married Female Labor-Force Participation," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 8(1), pages 1-41, January.
    2. Richard Blundell & Monica Costa Dias & Costas Meghir & Jonathan Shaw, 2016. "Female Labor Supply, Human Capital, and Welfare Reform," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 84, pages 1705-1753, September.
    3. repec:spo:wpecon:info:hdl:2441/eu4vqp9ompqllr09j00420pk7 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Fatih Guvenen & Michelle Rendall, 2015. "Women's Emancipation through Education: A Macroeconomic Analysis," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 18(4), pages 931-956, October.
    5. Marcassa Stefania, 2013. "Divorce laws and divorce rate in the US," The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, De Gruyter, vol. 13(1), pages 1-39, August.
    6. Zvi Eckstein & Osnat Lifshitz, 2011. "Dynamic Female Labor Supply," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 79(6), pages 1675-1726, November.
    7. Nicolas Jacquemet & Jean-Marc Robin, 2011. "Marriage with Labor Supply," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) hal-01073728, HAL.
    8. 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.
    9. Peters, H Elizabeth, 1986. "Marriage and Divorce: Informational Constraints and Private Contracting," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(3), pages 437-454, June.
    10. Orazio Attanasio & Hamish Low & Virginia Sánchez-Marcos, 2008. "Explaining Changes in Female Labor Supply in a Life-Cycle Model," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(4), pages 1517-1552, September.
    11. Del Boca, Daniela & Flinn, Christopher J, 1995. "Rationalizing Child-Support Decisions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(5), pages 1241-1262, December.
    12. Shelly Lundberg & Elaina Rose, 1998. "The Determinants of Specialization Within Marriage," Discussion Papers in Economics at the University of Washington 0048, Department of Economics at the University of Washington.
    13. Attanasio, Orazio P & Weber, Guglielmo, 1995. "Is Consumption Growth Consistent with Intertemporal Optimization? Evidence from the Consumer Expenditure Survey," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(6), pages 1121-1157, December.
    14. Laurens Cherchye & Bram De Rock & Frederic Vermeulen, 2012. "Married with Children: A Collective Labor Supply Model with Detailed Time Use and Intrahousehold Expenditure Information," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(7), pages 3377-3405, December.
    15. Peters, H Elizabeth, 1992. "Marriage and Divorce: Reply," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(3), pages 687-693, June.
    16. Jonathan Heathcote & Kjetil Storesletten & Giovanni L. Violante, 2010. "The Macroeconomic Implications of Rising Wage Inequality in the United States," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 118(4), pages 681-722, August.
    17. Adam Isen & Betsey Stevenson, 2010. "Women's Education and Family Behavior: Trends in Marriage, Divorce and Fertility," NBER Chapters, in: Demography and the Economy, pages 107-140, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    18. Zvi Eckstein & Kenneth I. Wolpin, 1989. "Dynamic Labour Force Participation of Married Women and Endogenous Work Experience," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 56(3), pages 375-390.
    19. Luis Cubeddu & José-Víctor Ríos-Rull, 2003. "Families As Shocks," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 1(2-3), pages 671-682, 04/05.
    20. Raquel Fernández & Joyce Cheng Wong, 2011. "The Disappearing Gender Gap: The Impact of Divorce, Wages, and Preferences on Education Choices and Women's Work," NBER Working Papers 17508, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    21. Elizabeth M. Caucutt & Nezih Guner & John Knowles, 2002. "Why Do Women Wait? Matching, Wage Inequality, and the Incentives for Fertility Delay," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 5(4), pages 815-855, October.
    22. Betsey Stevenson & Justin Wolfers, 2006. "Bargaining in the Shadow of the Law: Divorce Laws and Family Distress," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(1), pages 267-288.
    23. Fernández, Raquel & Wong, Joyce Cheng, 2011. "The Disappearing Gender Gap: The Impact of Divorce, Wages, and Preferences on Education Choices and Women's Work," CEPR Discussion Papers 8627, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    24. 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 628-642, June.
    25. Beller, Andrea H & Graham, John W, 1988. "Child Support Payments: Evidence from Repeated Cross Sections," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(2), pages 81-85, May.
    26. Raquel Bernal, 2008. "The Effect Of Maternal Employment And Child Care On Children'S Cognitive Development," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 49(4), pages 1173-1209, November.
    27. Matthias Doepke & Michèle Tertilt, 2009. "Women's Liberation: What's in It for Men?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 124(4), pages 1541-1591.
    28. Fatih Guvenen, 2007. "Learning Your Earning: Are Labor Income Shocks Really Very Persistent?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(3), pages 687-712, June.
    29. Steve Laufer & Ahu Gemici, 2009. "Marriage and Cohabitation," 2009 Meeting Papers 1191, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    30. Imran Rasul, 2006. "Marriage Markets and Divorce Laws," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 22(1), pages 30-69, April.
    31. Leora Friedberg, 1998. "Did Unilateral Divorce Raise Divorce Rates? Evidence from Panel Data," NBER Working Papers 6398, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    32. Michelle Rendall & Fatih Guvenen, 2009. "Emancipation through Education," 2009 Meeting Papers 70, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    33. González, Libertad & Viitanen, Tarja K., 2009. "The effect of divorce laws on divorce rates in Europe," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 53(2), pages 127-138, February.
    34. Richard Blundell & Pierre-André Chiappori & Costas Meghir, 2005. "Collective Labor Supply with Children," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(6), pages 1277-1306, December.
    35. Kjetil Storesletten & Chris I. Telmer & Amir Yaron, 2004. "Cyclical Dynamics in Idiosyncratic Labor Market Risk," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(3), pages 695-717, June.
    36. 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.
    37. Per Krusell & Anthony A. Smith & Jr., 1998. "Income and Wealth Heterogeneity in the Macroeconomy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(5), pages 867-896, October.
    38. Parkman, Allen M, 1992. "Unilateral Divorce and the Labor-Force Participation Rate of Married Women, Revisited," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(3), pages 671-678, June.
    39. Fernández, Raquel & Wong, Joyce Cheng, 2011. "The Disappearing Gender Gap: The Impact of Divorce, Wages, and Preferences on Education Choices and Women's Work," IZA Discussion Papers 6046, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    40. Allen, Douglas W, 1992. "Marriage and Divorce: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(3), pages 679-685, June.
    41. Andres Erosa & Luisa Fuster & Diego Restuccia, 2002. "Fertility Decisions and Gender Differences in Labor Turnover, Employment, and Wages," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 5(4), pages 856-891, October.
    42. Betsey Stevenson, 2008. "Divorce Law and Women's Labor Supply," NBER Working Papers 14346, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    43. Shelly Lundberg & Robert A. Pollak, 1996. "Bargaining and Distribution in Marriage," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(4), pages 139-158, Fall.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Doepke, M. & Tertilt, M., 2016. "Families in Macroeconomics," Handbook of Macroeconomics, in: J. B. Taylor & Harald Uhlig (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 0, pages 1789-1891, Elsevier.
    2. Raquel Fern?ndez & Joyce Wong, 2014. "Unilateral Divorce, the Decreasing Gender Gap, and Married Women's Labor Force Participation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(5), pages 342-347, May.
    3. Fatih Guvenen & Michelle Rendall, 2015. "Women's Emancipation through Education: A Macroeconomic Analysis," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 18(4), pages 931-956, October.
    4. Fatih Guvenen & Michelle Rendall, 2015. "Women's Emancipation through Education: A Macroeconomic Analysis," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 18(4), pages 931-956, October.

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Fernández, Raquel & Wong, Joyce Cheng, 2014. "Free to Leave? A Welfare Analysis of Divorce Regimes," CEPR Discussion Papers 10047, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. Joyce Wong & Raquel Fernández, 2012. "The Disappearing Gender Gap: The impact of divorce, wages, and preferences on education and women's work," 2012 Meeting Papers 176, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    3. Raquel Fernández & Joyce C. Wong, 2014. "Divorce Risk, Wages, and Working Wives: A Quantitative Life-Cycle Analysis of Female Labor Force Participation," NBER Working Papers 19869, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Fernández, Raquel & Wong, Joyce Cheng, 2011. "The Disappearing Gender Gap: The Impact of Divorce, Wages, and Preferences on Education Choices and Women's Work," IZA Discussion Papers 6046, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    5. Raquel Fernández & Joyce Cheng Wong, 2011. "The Disappearing Gender Gap: The Impact of Divorce, Wages, and Preferences on Education Choices and Women's Work," NBER Working Papers 17508, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Fernández, Raquel & Wong, Joyce Cheng, 2011. "The Disappearing Gender Gap: The Impact of Divorce, Wages, and Preferences on Education Choices and Women's Work," CEPR Discussion Papers 8627, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    7. Bargain, Olivier & González, Libertad & Keane, Claire & Özcan, Berkay, 2012. "Female labor supply and divorce: New evidence from Ireland," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 56(8), pages 1675-1691.
    8. Marcassa Stefania, 2013. "Divorce laws and divorce rate in the US," The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, De Gruyter, vol. 13(1), pages 1-39, August.
    9. Pablo Brassiolo, 2016. "Domestic Violence and Divorce Law: When Divorce Threats Become Credible," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 34(2), pages 443-477.
    10. Alessandra Voena, 2015. "Yours, Mine, and Ours: Do Divorce Laws Affect the Intertemporal Behavior of Married Couples?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(8), pages 2295-2332, August.
    11. Elizabeth Horner, 2014. "Continued Pursuit of Happily Ever After: Low Barriers to Divorce and Happiness," Journal of Family and Economic Issues, Springer, vol. 35(2), pages 228-240, June.
    12. Doepke, M. & Tertilt, M., 2016. "Families in Macroeconomics," Handbook of Macroeconomics, in: J. B. Taylor & Harald Uhlig (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 0, pages 1789-1891, Elsevier.
    13. Bellido, Héctor & Marcén, Miriam, 2011. "Divorce laws and fertility decisions," MPRA Paper 30243, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    14. Fabio Blasutto & Egor Kozlov, 2020. "(Changing) Marriage and Cohabitation Patterns in the US: do Divorce Laws Matter?," 2020 Papers pbl245, Job Market Papers.
    15. González, Libertad & Viitanen, Tarja K., 2009. "The effect of divorce laws on divorce rates in Europe," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 53(2), pages 127-138, February.
    16. John Douglas Skåtun, 2017. "Bargaining on your Spouse: Coasean and Non-Coasean Behaviour Within Marriage," Journal of Family and Economic Issues, Springer, vol. 38(2), pages 263-278, June.
    17. Chigavazira, Abraham & Fisher, Hayley & Robinson, Tim & Zhu, Anna, 2019. "The Consequences of Extending Equitable Property Division Divorce Laws to Cohabitants," Working Papers 2019-02, University of Sydney, School of Economics.
    18. Martin Halla & Wolfgang Frimmel & Rudolf Winter-Ebmer, 2016. "How Does Parental Divorce Affect Children's Long-term Outcomes?," CDL Aging, Health, Labor working papers 2016-03, The Christian Doppler (CD) Laboratory Aging, Health, and the Labor Market, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
    19. Andrew Shephard, 2019. "Marriage market dynamics, gender, and the age gap," PIER Working Paper Archive 19-003, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania.
    20. Akiko Maruyama & Takashi Shimizu & Kazuhiro Yamamoto, 2009. "Exit and Voice in a Marriage Market," Discussion Papers in Economics and Business 09-04, Osaka University, Graduate School of Economics.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • K36 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law - - - Family and Personal Law

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:20251. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/nberrus.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.