Friday, November 3, 2017
Cleaning in the Shadow of the Law: The Effect of Unilateral Divorce Laws on Men's Marital Investment in Housework
Jennifer Roff, Cleaning in the Shadow of the Law? Bargaining, Marital Investment, and the Impact of Divorce Law on Husbands' Intra-Household Work, 60 Journal of Law & Economics 115 (Jan. 2017)
Previous literature has established that unilateral divorce laws may reduce women's household work and overall marital investment. If unilateral divorce has differential costs by gender, it may impact household work by gender through bargaining channels. However, little research has examined how divorce laws affect men's levels and share of household production. To examine this, I use data on matched couples from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics and exploit time variation in state divorce laws. I find that unilateral divorce laws lead to a decrease in marital investment, as measured by mens' and women's household work. The evidence also supports a bargaining response to divorce laws, as fathers in states without joint-custody laws engage in a significantly higher share of household work under unilateral divorce than those in states with joint-custody laws, consistent with a higher cost of marital dissolution among fathers who stand to lose custody of their children.