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The Impact of No-Fault Divorce

March 8th, 2010

Here is an article about Prof. Doug Allen’s talk at the BYU Symposium. Divorce is important to study, because no one fully anticipated how much changing divorce rules would change many other areas of society. I posted on this lecture, from the conference itself. see here.

Allen said, it’s safe to say between 10 percent and 20 percent of marriages ended as a direct result of no-fault divorce laws.

“No-fault divorce was never the most significant factor, but it was a significant factor,” he said.

Allen said the laws made it easier to walk away from a marriage and the consequences hurt older women and women with dependent children, creating of feminization of poverty.

“No-fault allows opportunistic divorce to happen,” Allen said.

Divorce rates increased. The age of first marriages rose as people look longer and more carefully before they marry….Suicides and violence in homes increased. (this is actually not quite accurate: women’s suicides declined in states with easier divorce. However, children’s suicides increased. JRM) More women worked longer hours at their jobs and at home.

Consequently, more women are “self-insuring” by increasing their education levels and entering the work force. Ironically, higher female wages create a lower fertility rate, which lowers the gain in marriage and actually creates more divorces.

We hope to get recordings of the talks on the internet. Watch this space!

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