Adultery Laws: The Effect of Legal Sanctions on Marital Investment and Adultery Open Access

Kim, Geunyoung (2014)

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According to the New Oxford American Dictionary, adultery is an instance of voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and a person who is not his or her spouse. This paper models adultery in a two-stage game between a husband and a wife to show whether having legal sanctions against adultery has any impact on reducing the likelihood of adultery. In stage one, the husband simultaneously makes a choice about whether to invest in the marriage and whether to commit adultery while the wife chooses whether to invest in the marriage. The husband and wife's respective choices about investing in the marriage are not known to each other in stage one. In stage two, based on her husband's choice to cheat or to stay committed to the marriage, the wife determines whether to get a divorce or not. From the model, we observe that adultery occurs if the benefits of adultery compensate for the husband's moral cost of committing adultery and any legal sanctions against adultery. We also find that legal sanctions and morality work towards the same end to reduce the probability of adultery when both are present. In cases where legal sanctions are available only when divorce occurs, both the husband and wife's decisions to invest make the husband less likely to commit adultery. Therefore, when legal sanctions against adultery and morality are not present, the marriage-specific investment can be used to reduce the probability of adultery.

Table of Contents

I. Introduction 1

II. Literature Review 5

III. Basic Model 7

3.1 Model 7

3.2 Equilibria and Conditions 7

3.3 Summary 10

IV. Two Extensions 17

4.1 Extension I 18

4.2 Conditions and Equilibria for Extension I 18

4.3 Summary of Extension I 18

4.4 Extension II 24

4.5 Conditions and Equilibria for Extension II 25

4.6 Summary of Extension II 25

V. Results and Discussion 31

5.1 Synthesis 33

5.2 Implications 33

5.2.1 Turkey 34

5.2.2 Pennsylvania 36

VI. Conclusion 37

VII. Appendices 40

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