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