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JOHN EEKELAAR, Emeritus Fellow, Pembroke College, Oxford
Section 198 of the Equality Act 2010 abolishes the common law duty of a husband to maintain his wife. What are things coming to? Will husbands see this as a sign that their wives can languish at home with no or meagre provision, while they spend their earnings on themselves alone? Probably not. This legal event, I would think, will have no effect on social behaviour at all. The dynamics of family economics are driven by very different things. Yet the conflation of legal events and social behaviour is common, especially in relation to family behaviour. There is, of course, some relationship between the two. But it is a subtle and complex one and it is likely that the effect of legal events is often exaggerated. This article looks at some of the evidence about these interactions.
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