Business Economics and Public Policy Papers

Document Type

Journal Article

Date of this Version

2-2006

Publication Source

The Quarterly Journal of Economics

Volume

121

Issue

1

Start Page

267

Last Page

288

DOI

10.1093/qje/121.1.267

Abstract

This paper exploits the variation occurring from the different timing of divorce law reforms across the United States to evaluate how unilateral divorce changed family violence and whether the option provided by unilateral divorce reduced suicide and spousal homicide. Unilateral divorce both potentially increases the likelihood that a domestic violence relationship ends and acts to transfer bargaining power toward the abused, thereby potentially stopping the abuse in extant relationships. In states that introduced unilateral divorce we find a 8–16 percent decline in female suicide, roughly a 30 percent decline in domestic violence for both men and women, and a 10 percent decline in females murdered by their partners.

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Date Posted: 27 November 2017

This document has been peer reviewed.