Peter Blair
Elijah Neilson

In theory, unilateral divorce laws alter the private incentive to invest in human capital by permitting either spouse to initiate the division of the marital assets. Using several causal research designs we show that both men and women are less likely to attain a bachelor’s degree in states with unilateral divorce laws—-especially individuals who were exposed to the laws when making educational choices and who live in states requiring an even split of assets upon divorce. Unilateral divorce laws do not distort human capital investment generically—but rather in contexts where the property division laws invite moral hazard.

Publication Type
Working Paper
File Description
First version, August 2023
JEL Codes
D13: Household Production and Intrahousehold Allocation
J12: Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure; Domestic Abuse
J15: Economics of Minorities, Races, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
J16: Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
J24: Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
K11 Basic Areas of Law: Property Law
K12: Contract Law
K36: Family and Personal Law
unilateral divorce
property rights
racial differences
labor market distortions