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Common Law Marriage and Teen Births

Author

Listed:
  • Grossbard, Shoshana

    () (San Diego State University)

  • Vernon, Victoria

    () (Empire State College)

Abstract

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 CLM effects are identified through cross-state and time variation, as four states repealed the law over the period of study. We find that in the states where CLM laws were first available but then repealed the odds that teens would become new mothers increased, with a larger increase among young black teens.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.

Suggested Citation

  • Grossbard, Shoshana & Vernon, Victoria, 2015. "Common Law Marriage and Teen Births," IZA Discussion Papers 9198, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp9198
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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.
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    6. 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.
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    13. 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.
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    Cited by:

    1. Shoshana Grossbard, 2016. "Should common law marriage be abolished?," IZA World of Labor, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA), pages 256-256, May.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    fertility; Common-Law marriage; teens;

    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
    • K36 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law - - - Family and Personal Law

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