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Divorce among high and low divorce-prone populations following unilateral divorce laws

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posted on 2024-02-07, 06:53 authored by Linus Andersson, Jan SaarelaJan Saarela, Caroline UgglaCaroline Uggla

Objective: This study analyzes heterogeneity in divorce rates after the 1987 transition from mutual consent to unilateral no-fault divorce in Finland.

Background: Marriage and divorce legislation can impact divorce rates. Some groups may be more responsive to changes in legal context than others. We propose that unilateral no-fault divorce laws either (a) increase divorce more in high or low-divorce-prone groups, or (b) increase divorce equally across these groups.

Methods: We use population-wide register individual-level data from Finland to identify salient social groups with different divorce propensity, including ethno-linguistic and religious affiliations with divergent divorce propensity, and couples of different parental status, marriage length, marital history. We use piece-wise constant exponential survival models to estimate the association with divorce proneness before and after the introduction of mutual consent divorce laws.

Results: Divorce rates increase in all studied subgroups by about 60 percent in the years following unilateral divorce. We found no support for the hypotheses that high or low divorce-prone groups are particularly responsive to divorce liberalization.

Conclusions: The findings speak towards a universal rather than heterogeneous effect of divorce law liberalization.


Mismatch: A novel explanation for the decline in co-residential partnerships in the Nordic countries

Swedish Research Council

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Åbo Akademi University Foundation’s funding of the DemSwed Internal Centre of Excellence (2019-2024)




Original title

Divorce among high and low divorce-prone populations following unilateral divorce laws

Original language

  • English

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