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Why Have Divorce Rates Fallen?: The Role of Women’s Age at Marriage


  • Dana Rotz


American divorce rates rose from the 1950s to the 1970s peaked around 1980, and have fallen ever since. The mean age at marriage also substantially increased after 1970. I explore the extent to which the rise in age at marriage can explain the decrease in divorce rates for cohorts marrying after 1980 using data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation, 1979 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, and National Survey of Family Growth. Three different empirical approaches suggest that the increase in women’s age at marriage is the main proximate cause of the fall in divorce rates.

Suggested Citation

  • Dana Rotz, 2016. "Why Have Divorce Rates Fallen?: The Role of Women’s Age at Marriage," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 51(4), pages 961-1002.
  • Handle: RePEc:uwp:jhriss:v:51:y:2016:i:4:p:961-1002
    Note: DOI: 10.3368/jhr.51.4.0214-6224R

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    Cited by:

    1. Christina A. Houseworth & Barry R. Chiswick, 2020. "Divorce among European and Mexican Immigrants in the U.S," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 18(1), pages 1-25, March.
    2. Jorge Garcia-Hombrados & Berkay Özcan, 2024. "Age at marriage and marital stability: evidence from China," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 22(1), pages 297-328, March.
    3. Fortin, Nicole M. & Bell, Brian & Böhm, Michael, 2017. "Top earnings inequality and the gender pay gap: Canada, Sweden, and the United Kingdom," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 107-123.
    4. Amr Ragab & Ayhab F. Saad, 2023. "The effects of a negative economic shock on male marriage in the West Bank," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 21(3), pages 789-814, September.
    5. Dana Rotz & Brian Goesling & Nicholas Redel & Menbere Shiferaw & Claire Smither-Wulsin, "undated". "Assessing the Benefits of Delayed Sexual Activity: A Synthesis of the Literature," Mathematica Policy Research Reports 16a96ac7ac69493eaeb7edba2, Mathematica Policy Research.
    6. Zhang, Shiying & Wang, Qing & Xiao, Yao & Zhang, Yilin, 2023. "Internet exposure during adolescence and age at first marriage," Journal of Asian Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(C).
    7. Junhong Chu & Haoming Liu & I. P. L. Png, 2018. "Nonlabor Income and Age at Marriage: Evidence From China’s Heating Policy," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 55(6), pages 2345-2370, December.
    8. Songtao Yang, 2022. "The effects of compulsory schooling reforms on women’s marriage outcomes—evidence from Britain," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 63(3), pages 1637-1662, September.
    9. Martha J. Bailey & Olga Malkova & Zoë M. McLaren, 2017. "Does Parents’ Access to Family Planning Increase Children’s Opportunities? Evidence from the War on Poverty and the Early Years of Title X," NBER Working Papers 23971, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. McGavock, Tamara, 2021. "Here waits the bride? The effect of Ethiopia's child marriage law," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 149(C).
    11. Anna Garriga & Clara Cortina, 2017. "The change in single mothers’ educational gradient over time in Spain," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 36(61), pages 1859-1888.
    12. Ben Malinga John & Natalie Nitsche, 2022. "Dynamics of Union Dissolution in Sub‐Saharan Africa," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 48(4), pages 1163-1201, December.
    13. Gloria Moroni, 2018. "Explaining Divorce Gaps in Cognitive and Noncognitive Skills of Children," Discussion Papers 18/16, Department of Economics, University of York.

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