United But (Un-)Equal: Human Capital, Probability of Divorce and the Marriage Contract

28 Pages Posted: 15 Dec 2012

See all articles by Helmuth Cremer

Helmuth Cremer

University of Toulouse (GREMAQ & IDEI); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Pierre Pestieau

University of Liege - Research Center on Public and Population Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute); Catholic University of Louvain (UCL) - Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE)

Kerstin Roeder

Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (LMU); University of Augsburg

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Abstract

This paper studies how the risk of divorce affects the human capital decisions of a young couple. We consider a setting where complete specialization (one of the spouses uses up all the education resources) is optimal with no divorce risk. Symmetry in education (both spouses receive an equal amount of education) then acts like an insurance device in case of divorce particularly when the institutions do not compensate for differences in earnings. But, at the same time symmetry in education is less efficient than the extreme specialization. This is the basic tradeoff underlying our analysis. We show that the symmetric allocation will become more attractive as the probability of divorce increases, if risk aversion is high and/or labor supply elasticity is low. However, it is only a “second-best” solution as the insurance protection is achieved at the expense of an efficiency loss. Efficiency can be restored through suitably designed marriage contracts because they can provide the appropriate insurance against divorce to a couple who opts for specialization. Finally, we study how the (economic) use of marriage is affected by the possibility of divorce.

Keywords: post-marital education, marriage contract, divorce

JEL Classification: D13, J24, K36

Suggested Citation

Cremer, Helmuth and Pestieau, Pierre and Roeder, Kerstin, United But (Un-)Equal: Human Capital, Probability of Divorce and the Marriage Contract. IZA Discussion Paper No. 7038, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2189776

Helmuth Cremer (Contact Author)

University of Toulouse (GREMAQ & IDEI) ( email )

Toulouse, 31000
France
+33 1 6112 8606 (Phone)
+33 1 6112 8637 (Fax)

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

Pierre Pestieau

University of Liege - Research Center on Public and Population Economics ( email )

Boulevard du Rectorat, 7, Batiment 31
Sart-Tilman
B-4000 Liege, 4000
Belgium
+32 4 366 3108 (Phone)
+32 4 366 3106 (Fax)

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

HOME PAGE: http://www.CESifo.de

Catholic University of Louvain (UCL) - Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE) ( email )

34 Vopie Roman Pays
Louvain la Neuve
Belgium

Kerstin Roeder

Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (LMU) ( email )

Geschwister-Scholl-Platz 1
Munich, DE Bavaria 80539
Germany

University of Augsburg ( email )

Universitätsstr. 2
Augsburg, 86159
Germany

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