Skip to content

Research Paper

Property division laws: the effects on labor supply and household bargaining


Publication date



This paper provides a framework for analyzing the impact of a change in property division law - a natural experiment that affects spouses’ bargaining power in a discrete manner - on household decision making. I focus on the House of Lords decision of 2000 (White v. White), which led to a more equitable division of assets between divorcing spouses in England and Wales, and estimate its effect on the intrahousehold resource allocation rule using the collective labor supply model. I show that this effect can be expressed as an ‘equivalent transfer’ of household nonlabor income. The ‘equivalent transfer’ concept is then used to demonstrate that the unobserved components of the underlying decision process, that is, the individual preferences and the household resource sharing rule, can be identified nonparametrically from changes in observed labor supply. Empirical analysis using the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS) for 1991­-2006 reveals that married women reduced their labor supply after the law change. I also find some evidence that the household resource allocation process changed in their favor.


Law And Legislation, Labour Economics, and Family Formation And Dissolution



SSRN search; working paper


Research home

Research home


Latest findings, new research

Publications search

Search all research by subject and author


Researchers discuss their findings and what they mean for society


Background and context, methods and data, aims and outputs


Conferences, seminars and workshops

Survey methodology

Specialist research, practice and study

Taking the long view

ISER's annual report


Key research themes and areas of interest