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Good news about no-fault divorce

4/9/2004

A recent article in the Washington Post reported that liberalized divorce laws have reduced suicides among women, sparked a dramatic reduction in domestic violence and led to a decline in women murdered by their partners. The article sited research done by economists Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers.

Specifically, the researchers claim, these benefits have resulted from the adoption of so-called "no-fault" divorce laws, in which one partner can end the marriage without the consent of the other.

After states adupted no-fault divorce laws, suicides among women dropped by 20%, the rate of domestic violence fell by a third, and the number of women murdered by their partners dropped by 10%, Stevenson and Wolfers found.

Adoption of unitlateral divorce laws didn't affect the suicide rate of men or the likelihood that they would be murdered by their partners. But domestic violence directed at both men and women declined, the researchers reported in a recent Nation Bureau of Economic Research working paper.


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