Direct and Indirect Effects of Unilateral Divorce Law on Marital Stability

34 Pages Posted: 27 Aug 2014  

Thorsten Kneip

MEA, Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy

Gerrit Bauer

University of Mannheim - Mannheim Centre for European Social Research (MZES)

Steffen Reinhold

University of Mannheim - Mannheim Research Institute for the Economics of Aging (MEA)

Date Written: November 15, 2011

Abstract

Previous research on the impact of unilateral divorce law (UDL) on the prevalence of divorce has provided mixed and little cumulative results. Studies based on cross‐sectional cross-country survey data have been criticized for not being able to account for unobserved country heterogeneity, whereas studies using country‐level panel data fail to account for possible mediating mechanisms at the micro level. We seek to overcome these shortcomings by using event history data from 11 European countries and employing a difference‐indifference approach, thus combining the advantages of both approaches. We find that UDL in total increased the risk of marital breakdown by about 20%. This effect is, however, strongly moderated by selection into marriage, the direct effect being twice as large. Additionally, we find unilateral law effects on female labor force participation and transition to parenthood, although the latter is completely moderated by increased age at marriage. Neither labor force participation nor children have strong mediating effects but marital stability is found to be more sensitive to the legal setting in the presence of children.

Suggested Citation

Kneip, Thorsten and Bauer, Gerrit and Reinhold, Steffen, Direct and Indirect Effects of Unilateral Divorce Law on Marital Stability (November 15, 2011). Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy Discussion Paper No. 248-11. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2487117 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2487117

Thorsten Kneip (Contact Author)

MEA, Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy ( email )

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Gerrit Bauer

University of Mannheim - Mannheim Centre for European Social Research (MZES) ( email )

D-68131 Mannheim
Germany

Steffen Reinhold

University of Mannheim - Mannheim Research Institute for the Economics of Aging (MEA) ( email )

D-68131 Mannheim
Germany

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