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Endogenous divorce and human capital production


  • Amanda Gosling


  • Maria D. C. Garcia-Alonso



This paper presents a model of parental decision making where parents care about consumption and the human capital of the children. Preferences over these goods can differ within households. Parents will agree to cooperate (stay married) if the utility they get from coordinating time inputs (ie child care or paid employment) is greater than they would get if they acted independently. The gain to cooperation arises because parental time inputs are not perfect substitutes in the production of the child's human capital, the cost is that when preferences differ, the chosen time allocations under cooperation may be very different to those chosen independently. Our model predicts that the human capital of children can both increase and fall after divorce. Divorce, if it occurs, will be instigated by the parent who cares most about the child, the parent that cares least about the child will never opt for divorce. This can explain the apparent contradiction that mothers are more likely than fathers to initiate divorce beyond infant age even though the traditional household literature presents women as home makers and ever devoted to household production.

Suggested Citation

  • Amanda Gosling & Maria D. C. Garcia-Alonso, 2015. "Endogenous divorce and human capital production," Studies in Economics 1521, School of Economics, University of Kent.
  • Handle: RePEc:ukc:ukcedp:1521

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Barham, Vicky & Devlin, Rose Anne & Yang, Jie, 2009. "A theory of rational marriage and divorce," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 93-106, January.
    2. Steffen Reinhold & Thorsten Kneip & Gerrit Bauer, 2013. "The long run consequences of unilateral divorce laws on children—evidence from SHARELIFE," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 26(3), pages 1035-1056, July.
    3. Weiss, Yoram & Willis, Robert J, 1997. "Match Quality, New Information, and Marital Dissolution," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(1), pages 293-329, January.
    4. Tracy J. Cornelius, 2003. "A Search Model of Marriage and Divorce," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 6(1), pages 135-155, January.
    5. Chengze Simon Fan, 2001. "A model of endogenous divorce and endogenous fertility," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 14(1), pages 101-117.
    6. 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.
    7. Melissa Tartari, 2006. "Divorce and the cognitive achievement of children," 2006 Meeting Papers 32, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    8. Oleksandr Zhylyevskyy, 2012. "Spousal Conflict and Divorce," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 30(4), pages 915-962.
    9. Anderberg, Dan & Rainer, Helmut, 2013. "Economic abuse: A theory of intrahousehold sabotage," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 97(C), pages 282-295.
    10. Cáceres-Delpiano, Julio & Giolito, Eugenio, 2008. "How Unilateral Divorce Affects Children," IZA Discussion Papers 3342, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
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    2. Vié, Marie-Sklaerder & Zufferey, Nicolas & Cordeau, Jean-François, 2019. "Solving the Wire-Harness Design Problem at a European car manufacturer," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 272(2), pages 712-724.
    3. Huan-Niemi, Ellen & Niskanen, Olli & Rikkonen, Pasi & Rintamaki, Heidi, 2015. "Forecasting mitigation measures for agricultural greenhouse gas emissions in Finland," 2015 Conference, August 9-14, 2015, Milan, Italy 211751, International Association of Agricultural Economists.

    More about this item


    collective model; human capital; divorce;

    JEL classification:

    • C79 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Other
    • D19 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Other
    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply

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