The Effects of the Chilean Divorce Law on Women’s First Birth Decisions

Published on 1 June 2012

The economics literature on divorce law focuses on the introduction of no-fault divorce laws in the U.S.A. and no consensus has been reached regarding its effects on divorce rates, labor force participation and fertility decisions. In 2004 Chile allowed divorce for the first time. The new divorce law established compensation in case of divorce for the spouse who gives up personal development for the good of the household.

Using birth histories constructed from the Social Protection Survey (Encuesta de Prevision Social – EPS) panel 2002-2009, I investigate the effect of the divorce law on women’s age at first birth. Using a hazard model I find that the divorce law decreases the hazard of having the first child by 40 percent for less educated women at all ages after controlling for socioeconomic characteristics, marital duration and the negative trend in fertility rates observed in Chile since the mid-1960s.


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