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Harder divorce = more marriage

April 17, 2014
Megan McCardle doesn't think through the consequences of limiting divorce:
I can see the appeal of making marriage more difficult to get out of. My brief tour through the divorce literature indicated that ending a high-conflict marriage is better for everyone, including the kids -- despite the financial and emotional drawbacks, it really is better to have two homes, rather than one where Mom and Dad are engaged in a bitter civil war.

On the other hand, the evidence on ending low-conflict marriages -- one in which maybe one party, or both, doesn’t feel perfectly fulfilled, but they get along OK -- wasn’t so happy. Children of low-conflict marriages whose parents divorce have more difficulty adjusting than the kids of high-conflict marriages. It’s thought that the divorce comes as a shock to these kids; a relationship that seemed fine to them suddenly dissolves, which changes their ability to trust the world and other people.

These divorces aren’t necessarily so great for the adults, either. Divorce tends to be a financial disaster for all but the very rich, because it’s more expensive to support two households than one. And people who exit marriages don’t necessarily find this makes them happier. We tend to think that marriages are good, and then they go bad, and then you divorce and get happy again, but unhappiness can often be a temporary condition that later improves....

The lesson is that when you make it harder to exit, you also make people reluctant to enter. If we try to strengthen marriage by clamping down on divorce, we may find that more and more people simply refuse to get married in the first place.
It's written from the perspective of a woman who wants to retain her out. Her position makes no sense. If she were correct, marriage rates would have climbed with no-fault divorce. Instead, they have collapsed. Men aren't avoiding marriage because they are afraid of being held to their marital contract, but because they are afraid of women not being held to it.

What ultimately threatens marriage is the state's involvement in it. The best way to strengthen it is to sever all connection between the religious sacrament and the state. Let the state permit civil partnerships of one or two or ten individuals; they can use the corporate model and be subject to dissolution as per contract.

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Post Information
Title Harder divorce = more marriage
Author VD
Date April 17, 2014 3:46 PM UTC (9 years ago)
Blog Alpha Game
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