Cleaning in the Shadow of the Law? Unilateral Divorce Laws and Husband's Share of Household Work and Leisure

Jennifer Roff, Queens College, City University of New York (CUNY)

While a large literature has examined the impact of divorce laws on a host of female labor supply and other measures, essentially no literature has examined how these same laws may affect men. If males and females face differential costs from divorce, then standard bargaining theory predicts that divorce law changes may affect the share of leisure by gender. While the economic costs of divorce to women are well known, men bear significant health costs following marital dissolution. Using newly wed couples from PSID data, I find that unilateral divorce laws increase males' household work and females' share of leisure, a result consistent with observed patterns of higher divorce filing rates among women and a lower male threat point to divorce. Moreover, these effects are largest among parents, as might be expected given that prevailing laws at the time generally awarded custody to mothers.

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Presented in Session 124: Interaction of Family and Economic Processes