The Long-Term Effects of Legalizing Divorce on Children

Authors: Libertad González and Tarja K. Viitanen

Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Vol. 80, No 2, 327-357, April, 2018

We estimate the effect of divorce legalization on the long-term well-being of children, by exploiting the different timing of divorce legalization across Europe. We compare the adult outcomes of cohorts raised when divorce was banned with those of cohorts raised after divorce was legalized in the same country. We also have 'control' countries where all cohorts were exposed (or not exposed) to legal divorce as children. We find that women who grew up under legal divorce have lower earnings and income and worse health as adults compared with women who grew up under illegal divorce. These negative effects are not found for men.