Dynamic Intrahousehold Bargaining, Matrimonial Property Law and Suicidal Canadians

John Hoddinott, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)
Christopher Adam, University of Oxford
Ethan Ligon, University of California, Berkeley

This paper develops a dynamic model of household bargaining and uses it to motivate an empirical analysis of the impact changes in Canadian laws regarding the allocation of family assets upon divorce on female suicide. Using time series data, we show that in Ontario, the passage of Canadian legislation that improved women's rights to assets upon divorce was associated with reductions in the rate of female suicide amongst older (married) women while not affecting younger (unmarried) women. As suggested by our model, its impact was asymmetric in that male suicide rates were unaffected by this change. We also exploited a quasi-natural experiment in these data, namely that no comparable legislative change occurred in Quebec. Here, we do not observe a structural break in the data.

Presented in Session 38: Resource Allocation within and across Households and Generations