Encyclopedia of Law and Economics

2019 Edition
| Editors: Alain Marciano, Giovanni Battista Ramello

No-Fault Revolution and Divorce Rate

  • Bruno JeandidierEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-7753-2_678


Concomitantly with the no-fault divorce revolution in the United States, there has been an increase in the divorce rate. From this observation, the question emerged of whether divorce law had a neutral effect on divorce behavior. Economists have conceptualized the issue by using an approach based on the “Coaseian” negotiation process, comparing unilateral divorce to divorce by mutual consent. The theoretical model predicts the neutrality of the law. But in the case of divorce, these assumptions are questionable. A determination as to the neutrality or non-neutrality of divorce law can thus be made based on empirical analysis. Early empirical studies came to conclusions favoring neutrality, but little by little, as methodological controversies accumulated, those empirical conclusions became more refined. Finally, a certain consensus emerged that the revolution in divorce would seem to have had a positive short-term impact on the divorce rate on the one hand, due more to the transition to unilateralism than to the abandonment of any reference to fault, and to have had a negative effect on the longer-term divorce rate on the other, because divorce law reform would seem to have prompted better-quality marriages.

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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Bureau d’Economie Théorique et Appliquée (BETA)CNRS and University of LorraineNancyFrance