Working papers

"(Changing) Marriage and Cohabitation Patterns in the US: do Divorce Laws Matter?" (with Egor Kozlov)

Abstract: What is the role of unilateral divorce in the rise of unmarried cohabitation? Exploiting the staggered introduction of unilateral divorce across the US states, we show that after the reform singles become more likely to cohabit than to marry, and that newly formed cohabitations last longer. To understand the mechanisms driving these outcomes, we build a life-cycle model with partnership choice, endogenous divorce/breakup, female labor force participation, and saving decisions. A structural estimation that matches the empirical findings suggests that unilateral divorce decreases the marriage gains that derive from cooperation and risk-sharing. This makes cohabitation preferred among couples that would have likely faced a divorce, which is more expensive than breaking up. As cohabiting couples formed after the reform are better matched, the average length of cohabitations increases by 27%. Consistent with data, the rise in cohabitation is larger in states that impose an equal division of property upon divorce. This is because men, who stand to lose more wealth in a divorce than in a breakup, convince women to cohabit in exchange for more household resources. A counterfactual experiment reveals that the time spent cohabiting would have been halved if the divorce laws had never changed.

"Cohabitation vs Marriage: Mating Strategies by Education in the USA". Previous verision

R&R, Journal of the European Economic Association

Abstract: Cohabiting without being married is a common practice in the United States, especially among noncollege-educated individuals. I provide a theoretical rationale for the different mating behaviors by education, building a life-cycle model of partnership formation in which cohabitation can be both an investment good, useful to learn about the quality of prospective marriage partners, and a consumption good, namely a cheap substitute to marriage. A structural estimation of this model suggests that the composition of labor market earnings accounts for the differential likelihood to cohabit and to marry of people with different education levels, by influencing their demand for commitment.

"Catholic Censorship and the Demise of Knowledge Production in Early Modern Italy" CEPR Discussion Paper 16409 (with David de la Croix) Submitted

Abstract: Censorship makes new ideas less available to others, but also reduces the share of people choosing a non-compliant activity. We propose a new method to measure the effect of censorship on knowledge growth, accounting for the endogenous selection of agents into compliant vs. non-compliant ideas. We apply our method to the Catholic Church's censorship of books written by members of Italian universities and academies over the period 1400-1750. We highlight two new facts: once censorship was introduced, censored authors were of better quality than the non-censored authors, but this gap shrunk over time, and the intensity of censorship decreased over time. These facts are used to identify the deep parameters of a novel endogenous growth model linking censorship to knowledge diffusion and occupational choice. We conclude that censorship reduced by 30% the average log publication per scholar in Italy. Interestingly, half of this drop stems from the induced reallocation of talents towards compliant activities, while the other half arises from the direct effect of censorship on book availability.

Work in progress

"Child and Arranged Marriages in India: How the Caste System Influences Investment in Education" (with Fabio Mariani)