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A tale of two shares: The relationship between the "illegitimacy" ratio and the marriage share

  • Gray, Jo Anna
  • Stockard, Jean
  • Stone, Joe

We develop a model of fertility and marriage that implies a magnified effect of marriage rates on the share of births to unmarried women. For U.S. data, plots and regression estimates support the prediction that the share of unmarried births is driven primarily by the square of the share of unmarried women. Our findings suggest that some of the emphasis on changes in fertility behavior in explaining the rising share of births to unmarried women might be productively redirected toward exploring the role and determinants of changes in marriage behavior. Moreover, previous studies of fertility behavior, to the extent that marital status is taken as given, may confound fertility and marriage behavior.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Economics Letters.

Volume (Year): 90 (2006)
Issue (Month): 2 (February)
Pages: 242-248

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Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolet:v:90:y:2006:i:2:p:242-248
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  1. Moffitt, Robert, 1992. "Incentive Effects of the U.S. Welfare System: A Review," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 30(1), pages 1-61, March.
  2. John Fitzgerald & David Ribar, 2004. "Welfare reform and female headship," Demography, Springer, vol. 41(2), pages 189-212, May.
  3. Jeff Grogger & Stephen G. Bronars, 2001. "The Effect of Welfare Payments on the Marriage and Fertility Behavior of Unwed Mothers: Results from a Twins Experiment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 109(3), pages 529-545, June.
  4. 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..
  5. Herbert Smith & S. Morgan & Tanya Koropeckyj-Cox, 1996. "A decomposition of trends in the nonmarital fertility ratios of blacks and whites in the united states, 1960–1992," Demography, Springer, vol. 33(2), pages 141-151, May.
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