Sentencing Type, Relationship Dissolution, and the Risk of Remaining Single: Exploiting a Policy Reform to Distinguish Mechanisms

Peter Fallesen, University of Copenhagen and Rockwool Foundation Research Unit
Lars H. Andersen, Rockwool Foundation Research Unit and University of Copenhagen

Research shows that imprisonment might reduce men’s chances on the marriage market and increase their divorce risk. One seemingly straightforward way to reduce these damaging effects of imprisonment is to let offenders serve their sentence in the community, by means of non-custodial alternatives to imprisonment, such as electronic monitoring. Yet despite the widespread use of such alternatives to imprisonment, we currently lack empirical knowledge on the causal effect of sentencing type on relationship dissolution and on singlehood. This study addresses this issue by estimating the effect on singlehood and relationship dissolution in Denmark of serving a non-custodial sentence, electronic monitoring, rather than being imprisoned. We exploit a penal reform that increased the use of electronic monitoring in Denmark. Results show that electronic monitoring significantly and persistently lowers the risk of both relationship dissolution and singlehood following conviction. We identify effects of both separation and human capital erosion.

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Presented in Session 186: Demography of Crime and Punishment