Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Updated and Bumped: the facts on the economics of divorce.

A long standing factoid about the economics of divorce is that it improves a man's standard of living while diminishing a woman's. I first heard this 20+ years ago and took it at face value, but it is hard to square with the anecdotes of men immiserated by child support and alimony orders.

Can anyone point me to any studies that address this question either way?

In the comments, Wapiti points to Christopher Rapp's article that recounts the history behind the factoid. The original claim was made in 1985 by Lenore Weitzman in her book The Divorce Revolution. She subsequently conceded that she had made mathematical errors that exaggerated the disparity, but a more fundamental problem was that her data was drawn from a small sample of divorced couples in Los Angeles. A more representative sample by Atlee Stroup, published in 1994 (exerpted here, sort of), showed that both male and female standard of living declined after divorce, although the standard of living of women declined more, especially in poor households. However, Rapp's article goes on to quote Warren Farrell, author of The Myth of Male Power, to the effect that none of the studies adequately account for the expenses that men have to bear in the wake of a divorce.


Elusive Wapiti said...

I looked. The best I could find was a book by Stanford Braver called "Divorced Dads: Shattering the Myths".

In it, apparently he effectively critiques Weitzman's methodology as unsound, and allegedly claims that custodial moms do slightly better in the long run, but I was unable to find any studies freely available online.

Elusive Wapiti said...

Here's a link that may or may not prove useful.

Thursday said...

both male and female standard of living declined after divorce

Makes sense. Two houses. Two phone bills. Two cable bills.