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Pornography and Divorce

Tyler Shumway

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, The Stephen M. Ross School of Business

Robert Daines

Stanford Law School; Stanford Graduate School of Business

June 4, 2012

7th Annual Conference on Empirical Legal Studies Paper

We test whether pornography causes divorce. Using state-level panel data on the divorce rate and sales of Playboy magazine, we document a strong cross-sectional and time-series relation between lagged sales of Playboy and the divorce rate. The simple correlation between divorce and sales lagged two years is 44 percent, with a T-statistic of 20. This large correlation is robust to using only the first half of the sample, adjusting for all state-level heterogeneity and for any time trends by including state and year fixed effects, and using an instrumental variable to correct for any possible endogeneity in Playboy sales. Divorce rates are also significantly correlated with sales of Penthouse but they are not correlated with sales of Time magazine. Our overall estimates suggest that pornography probably caused 10 percent of all divorces in the United States in the sixties and seventies.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 39

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Date posted: July 18, 2012 ; Last revised: September 28, 2013

Suggested Citation

Shumway, Tyler and Daines, Robert, Pornography and Divorce (June 4, 2012). 7th Annual Conference on Empirical Legal Studies Paper. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2112435 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2112435

Contact Information

Tyler Shumway (Contact Author)
University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, The Stephen M. Ross School of Business ( email )
701 Tappan Street
Ann Arbor, MI MI 48109
United States
734-763-4129 (Phone)
734-936-0274 (Fax)
HOME PAGE: http://www.umich.edu/~shumway

Robert Daines
Stanford Law School ( email )
559 Nathan Abbott Way
Stanford, CA 94305-8610
United States
650-736-2684 (Phone)

Stanford Graduate School of Business ( email )
655 Knight Way
Stanford, CA 94305-5015
United States

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