Journal of Population Economics

, Volume 26, Issue 3, pp 1035–1056 | Cite as

The long run consequences of unilateral divorce laws on children—evidence from SHARELIFE

  • Steffen ReinholdEmail author
  • Thorsten Kneip
  • Gerrit Bauer
Original Paper


Previous research has shown adverse effects of growing up under unilateral divorce laws on long-term outcomes of children. It remains an open question of whether these effects of early childhood conditions arise due to divorce laws raising the likelihood of parental marital disruption or whether unilateral divorce laws also affect children in intact marriages by changing intra-household bargaining. Using recently available data from SHARELIFE for 11 Western European countries, we address this question employing a difference-in-differences approach and controlling for childhood family structure and socioeconomic status. Like previous research, we find adverse effects of growing up under unilateral divorce laws on the well-being of children. This effect remains even when controlling for childhood variables. We conclude that unilateral divorce laws affect children by changing family bargaining in intact marriages.


Unilateral divorce Childhood conditions Difference-in-differences Intra-household bargaining Children’s human capital formation 

JEL Classification

D13 J12 J13 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Steffen Reinhold
    • 1
    Email author
  • Thorsten Kneip
    • 2
  • Gerrit Bauer
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of EconomicsUniversity of MannheimMannheimGermany
  2. 2.Max-Planck-Institute for Social Law and Social PolicyMEAMunichGermany
  3. 3.Department of SociologyUniversity of Munich (LMU)MunichGermany

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