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Divorce, Fertility and the Shot Gun Marriage

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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 of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp2157
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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, 2015. "Yours, Mine, and Ours: Do Divorce Laws Affect the Intertemporal Behavior of Married Couples?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(8), pages 2295-2332, August.
    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. Shen, Danqing, 2018. "Marriage, Divorce and Sorting: A Reassessment of Unilateral Divorce Laws," MPRA Paper 92848, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    11. 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.
    12. Gutierrez, Federico H., 2019. "Will You Marry Me ... if Our Children Are Healthy? The Impact of Maternal Age and the Associated Risk of Having a Child with Health Problems on Family Structure," GLO Discussion Paper Series 354, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
    13. Cáceres-Delpiano, Julio & Giolito, Eugenio, 2008. "How Unilateral Divorce Affects Children," IZA Discussion Papers 3342, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    14. Bellido, Héctor & Marcén, Miriam, 2011. "Divorce laws and fertility decisions," MPRA Paper 30243, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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    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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