20 January 2008

Is divorce ever a good thing?

Tim Harford, writing in The Undercover Economist on Slate, thinks so. The article is well-written and thought-out, and worth reading. The money quote for me:
[Research shows that] the new laws had an unexpected—but rational—effect: by giving women an exit-option, they gave men stronger incentives to behave well inside a marriage. The result? Domestic violence fell by almost a third, and the number of women murdered by their partners fell by ten percent. Female suicide also fell.
Having lived through the fallout from my mother's dogged commitment to her toxic marriage, followed by my own unintentional following in her footsteps, I cannot but agree with his conclusion to that paragraph:
It is a reminder that the binding commitment of marriage has costs as well as benefits.
Harford writes,
While the divorce rate has been falling for three decades, it would be a shame if it fell too far. Justin Wolfers comments, "We know there exists something called an optimal divorce rate, and we're 100 percent sure it isn't zero."
Read the whole thing.

H/T The Anchoress.

No comments: