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Department of Economics, University of Bergen Working Papers in Economics, Department of Economics, University of Bergen

No 20/02:
Income Effects of Divorce in Families with Dependent Children

Espen Bratberg () and Sigve Tjøtta ()

Abstract: Marital splits may affect the economic well-being of families with children significantly. We study the economic effects of divorce in such families in Norway, using administrative information on more than 60,000 individuals. In the typical case, where the mother has custody, the mother (and child) lacks behind before maintenance payments, but after adding these, the outcomes at the median are very similar. However, the median pre-post divorce income reduction is larger for custodial women than for non-custodial men, they have larger risks of an income drop, and larger probabilities of an aggravated position in the income distribution. We also supplement the measures of realized net incomes with an estimate of earnings capabilities. Though not affecting the ranking of the different groups, these calculations indicate that measures based on realized incomes may underrate the well-being of individuals who do not work full-time. The analysis also includes a sensitivity analysis of important parameters in the equivalence scales. An important feature of the Norwegian ”post-divorce package” is that the Government guarantees a minimum level for, and enforces, maintenance payments from the non-custodian to the custodian parent. The system emerges from our analysis as having an equalizing effect on the economic costs of divorce.

Keywords: Marital dissolution; income distribution; income changes; child custody; equivalence scales.; (follow links to similar papers)

JEL-Codes: D31; I38; J12; (follow links to similar papers)

27 pages, November 15, 2002

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