The Effect of Divorce Laws on Divorce Rates in Europe

33 Pages Posted: 21 Mar 2006

See all articles by Libertad Gonzalez

Libertad Gonzalez

Universitat Pompeu Fabra; Barcelona Graduate School of Economics (Barcelona GSE); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Tarja K. Viitanen

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Date Written: March 2006

Abstract

This paper analyzes a panel of 18 European countries spanning from 1950 to 2003 to examine the extent to which the legal reforms leading to easier divorce that took place during the second half of the 20th century have contributed to the increase in divorce rates across Europe. We use a quasi-experimental set-up and exploit the different timing of the reforms in divorce laws across countries. We account for unobserved country-specific factors by introducing country fixed effects, and we include country-specific trends to control for time-varying factors at the country level that may be correlated with divorce rates and divorce laws, such as changing social norms or slow moving demographic trends. We find that the different reforms that made divorce easier were followed by significant increases in divorce rates. The effect of no-fault legislation was strong and permanent, while unilateral reforms only had a temporary effect on divorce rates. Overall, we estimate that the legal reforms account for about 20 percent of the increase in divorce rates in Europe between 1960 and 2002.

Keywords: divorce rates, legislation

JEL Classification: J12, J18, K3

Suggested Citation

Gonzalez, Libertad and Viitanen, Tarja K., The Effect of Divorce Laws on Divorce Rates in Europe (March 2006). IZA Discussion Paper No. 2023. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=892354

Libertad Gonzalez (Contact Author)

Universitat Pompeu Fabra ( email )

Ramon Trias Fargas 25-27
Barcelona, 08005
Spain

Barcelona Graduate School of Economics (Barcelona GSE)

Ramon Trias Fargas, 25-27
Barcelona, Barcelona 08005
Spain

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Tarja K. Viitanen

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

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