Women's emancipation through education: A macroeconomic analysis

Fatih Guvenen, Michelle Rendall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


We study the role of education as insurance against a bad marriage in light of changing divorce laws during the 1970s. We build and estimate an equilibrium search model with education, marriage/divorce/remarriage, and household labor supply decisions. A key feature of the model is that women bear a larger share of the divorce burden, mainly because they are more closely tied to their children relative to men. Our focus on education is motivated by the fact that divorce laws typically allow spouses to keep the future returns from their human capital upon divorce (unlike their physical assets), making education a good insurance in divorce. In the model, women overtake men in college attainment during the 1990s, a feature of the data that has proved challenging to explain. Our counterfactual experiments indicate that the divorce law reform of the 1970s played an important role in these trends, explaining more than one-quarter of college attainment rate of women post-1970s and one-half of the rise in labor supply for married women. Further, results suggest a higher insurance value of education in divorce than marriage market signaling benefits of education especially for women post divorce reform.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)931-956
Number of pages26
JournalReview of Economic Dynamics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 Elsevier Inc.


  • College-gender gap
  • Divorce
  • Divorce law reform
  • Female labor supply
  • Marriage
  • Remarriage


Dive into the research topics of 'Women's emancipation through education: A macroeconomic analysis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this