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The Contraceptive Revolution and the Second Demographic Transition: An Economic Model of Sex, Fertility, and Marriage


  • Joseph Burke

    () (Department of Economics, Ave Maria University)

  • Catherine Pakaluk

    () (Department of Economics and Business, Ave Maria University)


We present a model of household decisions regarding sex, fertility, marriage, and consumption. Households choose marital status based on the expected utility of marriage, and then sex, children, and consumption of other goods to maximize utility subject to a budget and a fertility constraint. An increase in contraceptive efficacy generally leads to increased sexual activity but has ambiguous effects on fertility. Also, increases in contraceptive efficacy lead to lower marriage rates and higher divorce rates. The predictions correspond to the features of the Second Demographic Transition, including declining overall fertility rates, increasing non-marital fertility, and the decline in marriage.

Suggested Citation

  • Joseph Burke & Catherine Pakaluk, 2010. "The Contraceptive Revolution and the Second Demographic Transition: An Economic Model of Sex, Fertility, and Marriage," Working Papers 1003, Ave Maria University, Department of Economics, revised May 2012.
  • Handle: RePEc:avm:wpaper:1003
    Note: Title change in January 2011

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    File Function: First version, 2010
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    More about this item


    microeconomic theory; contraception; sex; marriage; divorce; cohabitation; fertility;

    JEL classification:

    • D01 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Microeconomic Behavior: Underlying Principles
    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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