UK Family Law Reform
The Effect of Joint Custody
on Family Outcomes
University of Linz &
Since the 1970s almost all
US states have introduced a form of joint custody after divorce.
I analyze the causal effect of these custody law reforms on different
family outcomes. My identification strategy exploits the different timing
of reforms across the US states. Estimations based on state panel data
suggest that the introduction of joint custody led to an increase in
marriage rates, an increase in overall fertility (including a shift
from non-marital to marital fertility), and an increase in divorce rates
for older couples. Accordingly, female labor market participation decreased.
Further, male suicide rates and domestic violence fell in treated
states. The empirical evidence is consistent with the hypothesis
that joint custody increased the relative bargaining power of men within
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