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Common Law Marriage and Teen Births

Listed author(s):
  • Grossbard, Shoshana

    ()

    (San Diego State University)

  • Vernon, Victoria

    ()

    (Empire State College)

Using microdata from Current Population Survey Fertility supplements 1990-2010 we examine whether Common Law Marriage (CLM) laws in the US affect teen birth rates. CLM effects are identified through cross-state and time variation, as four states repealed the law over the period of study. We find that in the states where CLM laws were first available but then repealed the odds that teens would become new mothers increased, with a larger increase among young black teens. When we include dummies for CLM at various times around the timing of the repeal, it turns out that the likelihood of becoming a mother is most affected by availability of CLM between 1 and 4 years prior to the repeal. There is a small negative effect of CLM on older women becoming mothers. To the extent that they reduce teen births CLM laws are socially desirable and worthy of further study.

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File URL: http://ftp.iza.org/dp9198.pdf
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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 9198.

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Length: 23 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2015
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp9198
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  1. Dettling, Lisa J. & Kearney, Melissa S., 2014. "House prices and birth rates: The impact of the real estate market on the decision to have a baby," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 110(C), pages 82-100.
  2. repec:eme:rlecpp:rlec.2015.41 is not listed on IDEAS
  3. Kearney, Melissa S. & Levine, Phillip B., 2015. "Investigating recent trends in the U.S. teen birth rate," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 15-29.
  4. Betsey Stevenson, 2007. "The Impact of Divorce Laws on Marriage-Specific Capital," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 25, pages 75-94.
  5. Bellido, Héctor & Marcén, Miriam, 2014. "Divorce laws and fertility," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(C), pages 56-70.
  6. Stéphane Mechoulan, 2011. "The External Effects of Black Male Incarceration onBlack Females," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 29(1), pages 1-35, January.
  7. Alessandra Fogli & Raquel Fernandez, 2009. "Culture: An Empirical Investigation of Beliefs, Work, and Fertility," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(1), pages 146-177, January.
  8. Shoshana Grossbard & Victoria Vernon, 2014. "Common law marriage and couple formation," IZA Journal of Labor Economics, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 3(1), pages 1-26, December.
  9. 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.
  10. Marianne Bertrand & Esther Duflo & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2004. "How Much Should We Trust Differences-In-Differences Estimates?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(1), pages 249-275.
  11. Scott Drewianka, 2008. "Divorce law and family formation," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 21(2), pages 485-503, April.
  12. Melissa Schettini Kearney & Phillip B. Levine, 2012. "Explaining Recent Trends in the U.S. Teen Birth Rate," NBER Working Papers 17964, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Moulton, Brent R, 1990. "An Illustration of a Pitfall in Estimating the Effects of Aggregate Variables on Micro Unit," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 72(2), pages 334-338, May.
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