More or Less Unmarried: The Impact of Legal Settings of Cohabitation on Labor Market Outcomes

Marion Leturcq , Institut National d'Études Démographiques (INED)
Marion Goussé, Université Laval

We show how the legal settings of unmarried cohabitation affect partners' labor market outcomes. In Canada, cohabiting couples are automatically entitled to certain rights after a few years of cohabitation. In some provinces, ex-cohabiting partners can claim for alimony upon separation, in others they can claim for an equal split of all the assets acquired during the relationship. As legal settings of unmarried cohabitation differ across time, provinces and duration of the relationship, it provides a unique framework to analyze how different levels of commitment affect couples' decision regarding labor market supply. Using cross-provinces variation in the legal settings and minimum duration for eligibility, we show that unmarried cohabiting men increase their labor force supply when they become eligible to a more committed cohabitation regime, whereas women decrease theirs. Higher levels of commitment induce larger effects on labor market outcomes.

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 Presented in Session 45. Cohabitation and Nonmarital Relationships