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Joint custody laws and mother's welfare: Evidence from the US

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Abstract

Recent research has focused on the consequences on the unilateral divorce laws on several aspects of individual behavior but the issue of children custody after divorce has been almost neglected. This paper studies the implications on mothers of the changes in child custody law from maternal preference to joint custody using the 1960-2000 Census Public Use Micro Sample (IPUMS). Variation in the timing of joint custody reforms across states provides a natural experimental framework to study the causal effect of shared custody on mothers' economic outcomes. We also study the heterogeneity of the effect according to the years of exposure and to the age of the child at the time of the reform. The results show that divorced/separated mothers are negatively affected by the adoption of the joint custody laws in terms of a decrease in total income and earnings, exposing them to a higher risk of poverty. The paper discusses a possible rationale for these fidings in terms of higher child support payments the mother gets from the non custodial father in case of joint custody which might discourage them from looking for high paid jobs or investing in their careers.

Suggested Citation

  • Daniela Vuri, 2016. "Joint custody laws and mother's welfare: Evidence from the US," CEIS Research Paper 380, Tor Vergata University, CEIS, revised 27 May 2016.
  • Handle: RePEc:rtv:ceisrp:380
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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.
    2. Brandeanna Allen & John Nunley & Alan Seals, 2011. "The Effect of Joint-Child-Custody Legislation on the Child-Support Receipt of Single Mothers," Journal of Family and Economic Issues, Springer, vol. 32(1), pages 124-139, March.
    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 628-642, June.
    4. Maiti, Abhradeep, 2015. "Effect of joint custody laws on children's future labor market outcomes," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 22-31.
    5. Martin Halla, 2013. "The Effect Of Joint Custody On Family Outcomes," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 11(2), pages 278-315, April.
    6. Anna Sanz‐de‐Galdeano & Daniela Vuri, 2007. "Parental Divorce and Students’ Performance: Evidence from Longitudinal Data," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 69(3), pages 321-338, June.
    7. Imran Rasul, 2006. "The Economics of Child Custody," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 73(289), pages 1-25, February.
    8. Betsey Stevenson, 2008. "Divorce Law and Women's Labor Supply," NBER Working Papers 14346, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    joint custody laws; bargaining; difference in difference;

    JEL classification:

    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth

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