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Divorce laws and fertility

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  • Bellido, Héctor
  • Marcén, Miriam

Abstract

This paper examines the effect of divorce law reforms on fertility using the history of legislation on divorce across Europe. Because the introduction of more liberal divorce laws permanently reduces the value of marriage relative to divorce, these permanent shocks should also affect the fertility decisions of individuals, to the extent that children are considered marriage-specific capital. Our results suggest that divorce liberalization has a negative and permanent effect on fertility. Divorce reforms have decreased the Total Fertility Rate by about 0.2. The magnitude of the effect is sizable, taking into account that the average Total Fertility Rate declined from 2.84 in 1960 to 1.66 in 2006. These findings are robust to alternative specifications and controls for observed (the liberalization of abortion and the availability of the birth-control pill, among others) and unobserved country-specific factors, as well as time-varying factors at the country level. Supplemental analysis, developed to understand the mechanisms through which divorce law reforms affect fertility, shows that both marital and out-of-wedlock fertility decline, but that the impact on marital fertility varies, depending on whether couples are married prior to or after the divorce law reforms, pointing to a selection effect on the composition of marriages.

Suggested Citation

  • Bellido, Héctor & Marcén, Miriam, 2014. "Divorce laws and fertility," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(C), pages 56-70.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:labeco:v:27:y:2014:i:c:p:56-70
    DOI: 10.1016/j.labeco.2014.01.005
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:kap:reveho:v:15:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s11150-015-9307-8 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Libertad Gonzalez, 2014. "Should divorce be easier or harder?," IZA World of Labor, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA), pages 113-113, December.
    3. repec:eee:ecmode:v:70:y:2018:i:c:p:15-28 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Marcén, Miriam & Molina, José Alberto & Morales, Marina, 2018. "The effect of culture on the fertility decisions of immigrant women in the United States," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 70(C), pages 15-28.
    5. Bellido, Héctor & Marcén, Miriam, 2016. "Fertility and the Business Cycle: The European Case," MPRA Paper 69368, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    6. Shoshana Grossbard & Victoria Vernon, 2017. "Common Law Marriage and Teen Births," Journal of Family and Economic Issues, Springer, vol. 38(1), pages 129-145, March.
    7. Bellido, Héctor & Molina, José Alberto & Solaz, Anne & Stancanelli, Elena, 2016. "Do children of the first marriage deter divorce?," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 55(C), pages 15-31.
    8. Anthony A. Noce & Dhimtri Qirjo & Namini De Silva, 2016. "Enticing the Stork: Can we Evaluate Pro-Natal Policies Before Having Children?," Economic Affairs, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 36(2), pages 184-202, June.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Fertility rate; Divorce law; Abortion law; Oral contraception;

    JEL classification:

    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure
    • K36 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law - - - Family and Personal Law

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