Divorce Laws and Assortative Mating in the Marriage Market

48 Pages Posted: 9 Jun 2020

See all articles by Sitian Liu

Sitian Liu

Queen's University - Department of Economics

Date Written: May 14, 2020

Abstract

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

Liu, Sitian, Divorce Laws and Assortative Mating in the Marriage Market (May 14, 2020). 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
Canada

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

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