The (non) impact of education on marital dissolution



Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Education; Instrumental Variables; Mexico.


Despite the relevant role attributed to education on marital outcomes, literature does not show a generalized consensus regarding a positive or negative effect from education on marital decisions. In this paper the impact of education on marriage dissolution is analysed exploiting a change in the length of compulsory education in Mexico in 1993 as an instrument for education. The federal government increased compulsory education from completion of primary school, sixth grade, to completion of secondary school, ninth grade, at a national level. In the first part of the analysis, the probit models reveal that education is significant and negatively related to the probability of marital breakdown. An additional year of education is associated with a decrease between 0.6 and 0.9 percentage points in the probability of marital disruption for the 2002-2012 period. However, the results using the instrumental variables methodology indicate that an additional year of schooling has no effect on the probability of marriage dissolution. This finding demonstrates that the relationship between education and divorce is not causal and suggests that although higher levels of education are an undeniable trait observed in non-broken marriages, it is not education by itself one of the mechanisms leading to better marriage outcomes.