Unilateral Divorce, Assortative Mating, and Household Income Inequality

55 Pages Posted: 9 Jun 2020 Last revised: 23 Feb 2021

See all articles by Sitian Liu

Sitian Liu

Queen's University - Department of Economics

Date Written: May 14, 2020

Abstract

This paper studies how the introduction of unilateral divorce affects household income inequality across newly married couples and explores the potential mechanisms, in particular through assortative mating. I exploit variation in the adoption and timing of unilateral divorce laws and employ a synthetic control method. I find that unilateral divorce increases income inequality by 6.5–18%. This is likely driven by changes in the matching patterns across newly married couples—unilateral divorce moderately increases educational sorting and substantially increases income sorting. The effect is partially driven by high-income (low-income) individuals being less likely to marry down (up).

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 (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

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