Divorce is good for women

16th January, 2008

The Logic of LifeSlate is publishing two excerpts from “The Logic of Life“. Here’s the second one:

Perhaps a more positive way to express the trend is that women’s entry into high-powered careers has given them the option to get divorced if the marriage isn’t working out; and the recognition that that option is important is one of the factors encouraging women’s entry into high-powered careers.
That may sound a little abstract, but economists Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers discovered a chilling example of the way that the increased availability of divorce empowered women. As states passed “no fault” divorce laws, women acquired a credible threat to walk out of the marriage. (The statistics suggest that many of them did not, actually, do this. But the threat is enough.) Stevenson and Wolfers show that the new laws had an unexpected—but rational—effect: by giving women an exit-option, they gave men stronger incentives to behave well inside a marriage. The result? Domestic violence fell by almost a third, and the number of women murdered by their partners fell by ten percent. Female suicide also fell. It is a reminder that the binding commitment of marriage has costs as well as benefits…

Read the whole thing. The first extract is about how the pill turned men into slackers.

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