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

12 Pages Posted: 14 Feb 2011 Last revised: 17 Feb 2011

See all articles by Jin Young Lee

Jin Young Lee

Korea Economic Research Institute

Gary Solon

University of Arizona; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: February 2011


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.

Suggested Citation

Lee, Jin Young and Solon, Gary, The Fragility of Estimated Effects of Unilateral Divorce Laws on Divorce Rates (February 2011). NBER Working Paper No. w16773. Available at SSRN:

Jin Young Lee (Contact Author)

Korea Economic Research Institute ( email )

FKI Building, 28-1, Yoido-dong
150-756 Seoul

Gary Solon

University of Arizona ( email )

Department of Economics
Eller College of Management
Tucson, AZ 85719
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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