Fwd: Why Most Divorce Filers Are Women - New Look at Realities of Divorce
--- In ms-discussion@y..., Lindsay Jackel <jackel@m...> wrote:
The following article is now available fyi:
American Journal of Law and Economics
Vol 2, No 1, 2000 (pp126-169)
"These Boots Are Made for Walking: Why Most Divorce Filers Are Women,"
Margaret F. Brinig, College of Law, University of Iowa, and
Douglas Allen, Department of Economics, Simon Fraser University
This article/report can be accessed at:
It is a relevant and worthwhile read.
It has not been sent as an attachment because it is 186Kb in size.
The following article, in the NYT, reported on the above article on
The New York Times
11 July 2000
THE BIG CITY
"The correlation with custody is so strong ... that the best way to
preserve marriages and protect children ... is to rewrite custody
New Look at Realities of Divorce
By John Tierney
Which sex is mostly to blame for divorce? The answer seems obvious
time a mogul like Donald Trump or Ronald Perelman or Rupert Murdoch
Conservative preachers and liberal feminists are united in their
for philandering men who abandon their children. Journalists
this one) and politicians of all persuasions have righteously
"deadbeat dads." Even Hollywood professes to be appalled at the cads
depicted in "The First Wives Club."
But there's a problem with the conventional wisdom. Across America,
least two-thirds of divorce suits are filed by women. Researchers
interviewed divorcing couples have repeatedly found that, in cases
the divorce is not mutually desired, women are more than twice as
be the ones who want out. After the split, women are typically
than their exes.
This trend has inspired what is probably the first paper in the
Journal of Law and Economics ever to be named after a Nancy Sinatra
In "These Boots Are Made for Walking: Why Most Divorce Filers Are
Margaret F. Brinig and Douglas Allen, both economists, analyze all
divorces filed in one year, 1995, in four different states:
Virginia, Montana and Oregon.
They looked for different reasons that would prompt a woman to file
divorce. One would be to escape an abusive husband - like a man who is
adulterous or violent. But in the state with the best records of
grievances, Virginia, only 6 percent of divorces were granted on
violence, and husbands were cited for adultery only slightly more
"Some women file for divorce because they're exploited in really bad
marriages," said Dr. Brinig, a professor of law at the University of
"But it seems to be a relatively small number, probably less than 20
percent of the cases."
Another impetus to divorce is the belief that your partner is no
good enough for you. The classic example is the guy who takes a
wife after dumping the high-school sweetheart who sacrificed her own
potential to put him through medical school, but a woman can be
tempted to leave a husband who is less successful than she is.
The researchers found that the better-educated partner, male or
indeed more likely to file for divorce. But again these types of
seemed to represent less than 20 percent of the cases.
The solution to the mystery, the factor that determined most cases,
out to be the question of child custody. Women are much more willing
split up because -- unlike men -- they typically do not fear losing
of the children. Instead, a divorce often enables them to gain
over the children.
"The question of custody absolutely swamps all the other variables,"
Brinig said. "Children are the most important asset in a marriage,
partner who expects to get sole custody is by far the most likely to
The correlation with custody is so strong, Dr. Brinig said, that she
changed her view about the best way to preserve marriages and protect
children. She previously advocated an end to quick no-fault
she now believes that the key is to rewrite custody laws.
In most states, including New York, New Jersey and Connecticut,
fight for and usually win sole custody. But some states have recently
begun making joint custody the presumptive norm.
That change in the law seems to be keeping more couples together,
to this study and other work by Dr. Brinig. She and colleagues have
a decline in divorce in states with joint-custody laws. And when
do divorce, fathers who share custody are less likely to renege on
Dr. Brinig favors a law like the one recently enacted in West
which typically awards each parent a share of custody according to
time that parent spent with the child during the marriage. Besides
eliminating some of the vicious court fights that now take place over
custody, she said, such a law could lead to fewer divorces.
"Custody is now a way - in some marriages the only way - for women to
achieve a real show of force over men," Dr. Brinig said. "If you
that distortion, it's apt to change the way men and women relate to
other and to their kids. Fathers are likely to spend more time with
they can expect to still see them if the marriage doesn't work out.
will be more likely to see men as parenting partners, and less likely
use divorce as a power play."
--- End forwarded message ---