The Relationship Between Civil Unions and Fertility in France: Preliminary Evidence
This paper explores the relationship between fertility and the introduction of new laws regulating cohabitation, in a context of low fertility and high out of wedlock childbearing. We show that in France, while fertility and marriage rates moved closely together before 1999, since the introduction (in 1999) of the "Pacte Civil de Solidarité" (PACS) - a cohabitation contract less binding than marriage - this relationship is much weaker. Surprisingly, legal unions (defined as marriage plus PACS) and fertility continue to move together after this date. We provide evidence of the relationship between the introduction of PACS and fertility, utilizing the regional variation in the number of PACS per woman (PACS intensity) and the differences in fertility before and after 1999. We show that French Departments with high PACS intensity (excluding Metropolitan Paris). However, they did experience and increase in their fertility levels after the introduction of PACS. This suggests the need to collect better and more detailed data, in order to assess whether the recent increases in French fertility can be partially explained by the availability of PACS.
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