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Divorce, Fertility and the Shot Gun Marriage

Author

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  • Alesina, Alberto

    () (Harvard University)

  • Giuliano, Paola

    () (University of California, Los Angeles)

Abstract

Using the birth certificates data from the Vital Statistics of the USA between 1968 and 1999, we construct state level panel data of different measures of fertility and examine the change in divorce laws. Total fertility declined in states that introduced unilateral divorce, which makes dissolution of marriage easier. Most of this effect is due to a decline of out-of-wedlock fertility. We suggest an explanation (and provide supportive evidence for it) based upon the effect of divorce laws on the probability of entering and exiting marriage. Women planning to have children marry more easily with an easier “exit option” from marriage. Thus, more children are born in the first years of marriage, while the total marital fertility does not change, probably as a result of an increase in divorces and marital instability. The effect of changes in divorce laws is greater among whites than African Americans.

Suggested Citation

  • Alesina, Alberto & Giuliano, Paola, 2006. "Divorce, Fertility and the Shot Gun Marriage," IZA Discussion Papers 2157, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp2157
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Rajeev Dehejia & Adriana Lleras-Muney, 2004. "Booms, Busts, and Babies' Health," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(3), pages 1091-1130.
    2. Becker, Gary S & Landes, Elisabeth M & Michael, Robert T, 1977. "An Economic Analysis of Marital Instability," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(6), pages 1141-1187, December.
    3. repec:aph:ajpbhl:1999:89:2:199-203_4 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Leora Friedberg, 1998. "Did Unilateral Divorce Raise Divorce Rates? Evidence from Panel Data," NBER Working Papers 6398, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Eugene Choo & Aloysius Siow, 2006. "Who Marries Whom and Why," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 114(1), pages 175-201, February.
    6. Levine, P.B. & Staiger, D. & Kane, T.J. & Zimmerman, D.J., 1999. "Roe v Wade and American fertility," American Journal of Public Health, American Public Health Association, vol. 89(2), pages 199-203.
    7. George A. Akerlof & Janet L. Yellen & Michael L. Katz, 1996. "An Analysis of Out-of-Wedlock Childbearing in the United States," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 111(2), pages 277-317.
    8. Allen, Douglas W, 1992. "Marriage and Divorce: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(3), pages 679-685, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. DAVID M. BLAU & WILBERT van der KLAAUW, 2013. "What Determines Family Structure?," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 51(1), pages 579-604, January.
    2. Emilio Gutiérrez & Pablo Suárez Becerra, 2012. "The relationship between Civil Unions and fertility in France: Preliminary evidence," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 10(1), pages 115-132, March.
    3. Thorsten Kneip & Gerrit Bauer & Steffen Reinhold, 2014. "Direct and Indirect Effects of Unilateral Divorce Law on Marital Stability," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 51(6), pages 2103-2126, December.
    4. Bargain, Olivier & González, Libertad & Keane, Claire & Özcan, Berkay, 2012. "Female labor supply and divorce: New evidence from Ireland," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 56(8), pages 1675-1691.
    5. Martin Halla, 2009. "The Effect of Joint Custody on Marriage and Divorce," Economics working papers 2009-09, Department of Economics, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
    6. Julio Cáceres-Delpiano & Eugenio Giolito, 2012. "The Impact of Unilateral Divorce on Crime," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 30(1), pages 215-248.
    7. Alessandra Voena, 2011. "Yours, Mine and Ours: Do Divorce Laws Affect the Intertemporal Behavior of Married Couples?," Discussion Papers 10-022, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
    8. René Böheim & Mario Francesconi & Martin Halla, 2012. "Does custody law affect family behavior in and out of marriage?," Economics working papers 2012-12, Department of Economics, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
    9. Fisher, H., 2011. "Divorce Property Division and the Decision to Marry or Cohabit," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 1101, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
    10. Elizabeth Horner, 2014. "Continued Pursuit of Happily Ever After: Low Barriers to Divorce and Happiness," Journal of Family and Economic Issues, Springer, vol. 35(2), pages 228-240, June.
    11. Cáceres-Delpiano, Julio & Giolito, Eugenio P., 2008. "How Unilateral Divorce Affects Children," IZA Discussion Papers 3342, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    12. Bellido, Héctor & Marcén, Miriam, 2011. "Divorce laws and fertility decisions," MPRA Paper 30243, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    divorce laws; fertility; marriage;

    JEL classification:

    • 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

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