Unilateral Divorce, Assortative Mating, and Household Income Inequality

66 Pages Posted: 9 Jun 2020 Last revised: 29 Feb 2024

See all articles by Sitian Liu

Sitian Liu

Queen's University - Department of Economics

Date Written: February 26, 2024


This paper studies the impact of the introduction of unilateral divorce on assortative mating and household income inequality among newly married couples. I exploit variation in the adoption and timing of unilateral divorce laws using three empirical methods. I find that unilateral divorce led to an increase in household income inequality. The rise was likely driven by heightened assortative mating—unilateral divorce moderately increased educational sorting and substantially increased income sorting. Part of the increase in assortative mating could be attributed to reduced marriage rates among college graduates and changes in women’s labor force participation at the time of marriage.

Keywords: Divorce Law, Unilateral Divorce, Marriage Market, Assortative Mating, Household Income Inequality

JEL Classification: J12, K36

Suggested Citation

Liu, Sitian, Unilateral Divorce, Assortative Mating, and Household Income Inequality (February 26, 2024). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3601275 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3601275

Sitian Liu (Contact Author)

Queen's University - Department of Economics ( email )

94 University Avenue
Kingston, Ontario K7L 3N6

HOME PAGE: http://www.sitian-liu.com

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