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Does Community Property Discourage Unpartnered Births?

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Author Info

  • Ekert-Jaffe, Olivia

    ()
    (INED, France)

  • Grossbard, Shoshana

    ()
    (San Diego State University)

Abstract

This paper investigates the likelihood of an unpartnered birth as a function of laws regulating the division of joint property in case of divorce. Based on a rational choice model of marriage and assuming that on average women earn less than men, we predict that women are less likely to have an unpartnered birth when rules for the division of joint property are more advantageous to spouses with lower earnings. We derive more predictions regarding the effects of age, non-intact home, and religiosity, and the interaction between these variables and legal regime regarding divorce. We test our predictions with retrospective data from the Family Fertility Surveys collected in the 1990s. Most of our predictions are confirmed by a multi-country analysis for 17 legal regimes in 12 Western countries as well as single-country analyses for four countries. The results confirm most of our predictions. Our major findings are that the likelihood of an unpartnered birth is higher in countries that offer most women less access to joint property in case of divorce, and that this effect is weaker for teenagers than for women in their twenties.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 2816.

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Length: 37 pages
Date of creation: May 2007
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: European Journal of Political Economy, 2008, 24 (1), 25-40
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp2816

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Related research

Keywords: joint marital property; divorce laws; fertility; cohabitation; out-of-wedlock; unpartnered births;

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References

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  1. Robert J. Willis, 1999. "A Theory of Out-of-Wedlock Childbearing," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(S6), pages S33-S64, December.
  2. Lupton, J. & Smith, J.P., 1999. "Marriage, Assets, and Savings," Papers 99-12, RAND - Labor and Population Program.
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  5. Akerlof, George A & Yellen, Janet L & Katz, Michael L, 1996. "An Analysis of Out-of-Wedlock Childbearing in the United States," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 111(2), pages 277-317, May.
  6. Laferrere, Anne, 2001. " Marriage Settlements," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 103(3), pages 485-504, September.
  7. Brañas-Garza, Pablo & Neuman, Shoshana, 2006. "Is Fertility Related to Religiosity? Evidence from Spain," IZA Discussion Papers 2192, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  8. Becker, Gary S, 1973. "A Theory of Marriage: Part I," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(4), pages 813-46, July-Aug..
  9. Ekert-Jaffe, Olivia & Solaz, Anne, 2001. "Unemployment, marriage, and cohabitation in France," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 30(1), pages 75-98, January.
  10. Moulton, Brent R, 1990. "An Illustration of a Pitfall in Estimating the Effects of Aggregate Variables on Micro Unit," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 72(2), pages 334-38, May.
  11. Grossbard-Shechtman, Shoshana Amyra, 1982. "A Theory of Marriage Formality: The Case of Guatemala," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 30(4), pages 813-30, July.
  12. Ronald Mincy & Shoshana Grossbard & Chien-Chung Huang, 2005. "An Economic Analysis of Co-Parenting Choices: Single Parent, Visiting Father, Cohabitation, Marriage," Labor and Demography 0505004, EconWPA.
  13. Wolfe, Barbara & Wilson, Kathryn & Haveman, Robert, 2001. "The role of economic incentives in teenage nonmarital childbearing choices," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 81(3), pages 473-511, September.
  14. Eugene Choo & Aloysius Siow, 2006. "Who Marries Whom and Why," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 114(1), pages 175-201, February.
  15. Patrick Heuveline & Jeffrey M. Timberlake & Frank F. Furstenberg, 2003. "Shifting Childrearing to Single Mothers: Results from 17 Western Countries," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 29(1), pages 47-71.
  16. David Lam, 1988. "Marriage Markets and Assortative Mating with Household Public Goods: Theoretical Results and Empirical Implications," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 23(4), pages 462-487.
  17. John Hobcraft, 1998. "Intergenerational and Life-Course Transmission of Social Exclusion: Influences and Childhood Poverty, Family Disruption and Contact with the Police," CASE Papers case15, Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion, LSE.
  18. Gary S. Becker, 1981. "A Treatise on the Family," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number beck81-1, May.
  19. Almudena Sevilla-Sanz, 2007. "Division of Household Labor and Cross-Country Differences in Household Formation Rates," Economics Series Working Papers 325, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Alessandro Cigno, 2012. "Marriage as a commitment device," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 193-213, June.
  2. Carmen Deere & Abena Oduro & Hema Swaminathan & Cheryl Doss, 2013. "Property rights and the gender distribution of wealth in Ecuador, Ghana and India," Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer, vol. 11(2), pages 249-265, June.
  3. Grossbard, Shoshana & Vernon, Victoria, 2014. "Common Law Marriage and Male/Female Convergence in Labor Supply and Time Use," IZA Discussion Papers 7937, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

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