Single Motherhood and the Abolition of Coverture in the United States
Under the common-law system of coverture in the United States, a married woman relinquished control of property and wages to her husband. Many U.S. states passed acts between 1850 and 1920 that expanded a married woman’s right to keep her market earnings and to own separate property. The former were called married women’s earnings acts (MWEAs) and the latter married women’s property acts (MWPAs). Scholarly interest in the acts’ effects is growing. Researchers have examined how the acts affected outcomes such as women's wealth-holding and educational attainment. The acts' impact on women’s non-marital birth decisions remains unexamined, however. We postulate that the acts caused women to anticipate greater benefits from having children within rather than outside of marriage. We thus expect passage of MWPAs and MWEAs to reduce the likelihood that single women become mothers of young children. We use probit regression to analyze individual data from the U.S. Census for the years 1860 to 1920. We find that the property acts in fact reduced the likelihood that single women have young children. We also find that the “de-coverture” acts’ effects were stronger for literate women, U.S.-born women, in states with higher female labor-force participation, and in more rural states, consistent with predictions.
|Date of creation:||2017|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: Poschingerstrasse 5, 81679 Munich|
Phone: +49 (89) 9224-0
Fax: +49 (89) 985369
Web page: http://www.cesifo-group.de
More information through EDIRC
References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Hamilton, Gillian, 1999. "Property Rights and Transaction Costs in Marriage: Evidence from Prenuptial Contracts," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 59(01), pages 68-103, March.
- Rick Geddes & Dean Lueck, 2002. "The Gains From Self-Ownership and the Expansion of Women's Rights," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(4), pages 1079-1092, September.
- Carmen Diana Deere & Cheryl Doss, 2006. "The Gender Asset Gap: What Do We Know And Why Does It Matter?," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 12(1-2), pages 1-50.
- Ekert-Jaffe, Olivia & Grossbard, Shoshana, 2008.
"Does community property discourage unpartnered births?,"
European Journal of Political Economy,
Elsevier, vol. 24(1), pages 25-40, March.
- Ekert-Jaffe, Olivia & Grossbard, Shoshana, 2007. "Does Community Property Discourage Unpartnered Births?," IZA Discussion Papers 2816, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
- Barzel,Yoram, 1997. "Economic Analysis of Property Rights," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521597135, September.
- Grossbard-Shechtman, Amyra, 1986. "Economic behavior, marriage and fertility : Two lessons from polygyny," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 7(4), pages 415-424, December. Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_6471. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Klaus Wohlrabe)
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.