Divorce Laws and Assortative Mating in the Marriage Market
48 Pages Posted: 9 Jun 2020
Date Written: May 14, 2020
Since the late 1960s, many states in the U.S. have introduced unilateral divorce, which allows a spouse to obtain a divorce without the consent of the other spouse. I exploit variation in the adoption and timing of unilateral divorce laws and employ a synthetic control method to study how the introduction of unilateral divorce affects assortative mating in the marriage market. Using the 5% censuses for 1960, 1970, and 1980, I find that the introduction of unilateral divorce increases the correlation of spousal incomes by around 40%, and the correlation of spousal education by 9%. The effect is partially driven by an increase in marriages between two low-income individuals, an increase in marriages between two high-income individuals, and a decrease in marriages between a low-income individual and a high-income individual. At the extensive margin, the introduction of unilateral divorce lowers the likelihood of entering a marriage.
Keywords: Divorce Law, Unilateral Divorce, Marriage Market, Assortative Mating
JEL Classification: J12
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation