Until Death Do Us Part?: The Economics of Short-Term Marriage Contracts


Under the existing marriage contracts, the default length of a marriage is the total remaining lifespan of the spouses. This paper aims at questioning the standard long-term marriage contracts by exploring the conditions under which short-term contracts would be more desirable. Using a two-period collective household model, we show that, under general conditions on individual preferences and household production technology, short-term marriage contracts, if available, would dominate long-term contracts. Moreover, the recent equalization of bargaining power within the household is shown to make short-term contracts even more desirable than in the past.