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The Influence of Nonmarital Childbearing on the Formation of First Marriages

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  • Neil G. Bennett
  • David E. Bloom
  • Cynthia K. Miller

Abstract

We examine the association between nonmarital childbearing and the subsequent likelihood of first marriage and document a negative association between these variables -- controlling for a variety of potentially confounding influences -- in several large survey data sets for the United States. We then subject possible explanations of this finding to empirical test. The analyses performed support the following conclusions: Nonmarital childbearing does not appear to be driven by low expectations of future marriage. Rather, the direction of causation is just the reverse: Nonmarital childbearing tends to be an unexpected and unwanted event that has multiple effects, which on balance are negative, on a woman's subsequent likelihood of first marriage. Further, the upward trend in the proportion of childbearing that occurs outside of marriage may account for one-fourth of the increase in the proportion of women never marrying in the United States over cohorts separated by almost two decades. We do, however, find that nonmarital childbearers are more likely to enter informal cohabitational unions than are their single counterparts who do not bear a child. We find evidence that the negative association between out-of- wedlock childbearing and subsequent marriage is particularly strong among welfare recipients as well as evidence that out-of-wedlock childbearing increases the likelihood that a woman marries her child's biological father. On the other hand, we find no evidence that (a) stigma associated with nonmarital childbearing plays an important role

Suggested Citation

  • Neil G. Bennett & David E. Bloom & Cynthia K. Miller, 1993. "The Influence of Nonmarital Childbearing on the Formation of First Marriages," NBER Working Papers 4564, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:4564
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Bloom, D.E. & Bennett, N.G., 1989. "Modeling American Marriage Patterns," Papers 584, Yale - Economic Growth Center.
    2. Larry Bumpass & James Sweet, 1989. "National Estimates of Cohabitation," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 26(4), pages 615-625, November.
    3. Willard Rodgers & Arland Thornton, 1985. "Changing patterns of first marriage in the United States," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 22(2), pages 265-279, May.
    4. Gary Chamberlain, 1980. "Analysis of Covariance with Qualitative Data," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 47(1), pages 225-238.
    5. Robert Haveman & Barbara Wolfe & James Spaulding, 1991. "Childhood events and circumstances influencing high school completion," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 28(1), pages 133-157, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. Carlstrom, Charles T & Fuerst, Timothy S, 1997. "Agency Costs, Net Worth, and Business Fluctuations: A Computable General Equilibrium Analysis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(5), pages 893-910, December.
    2. Kelly Musick, 2007. "Cohabitation, nonmarital childbearing, and the marriage process," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 16(9), pages 249-286, April.
    3. Shannon Seitz, 2009. "Accounting for Racial Differences in Marriage and Employment," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 27(3), pages 385-437, July.
    4. Helena Holmlund, 2005. "Estimating Long-Term Consequences of Teenage Childbearing: An Examination of the Siblings Approach," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 40(3).
    5. Elizabeth T. Powers, 1995. "Fertility and welfare participation," Working Paper 9516, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
    6. Gottlieb, Aaron, 2016. "Household incarceration in early adolescence and risk of premarital first birth," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 61(C), pages 126-134.
    7. Jennifer A. Holland, 2013. "Love, marriage, then the baby carriage? Marriage timing and childbearing in Sweden," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 29(11), pages 275-306, August.
    8. Simonsen, Marianne & Skipper, Lars, 2012. "The family gap in wages: What wombmates reveal," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(1), pages 102-112.
    9. Nuevo-Chiquero, Ana, 2014. "The labor force effects of unplanned childbearing," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(C), pages 91-101.
    10. G. Sandefur & S. Cook, "undated". "Duration of Public Assistance Receipt: Is Welfare a Trap?," Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers 1129-97, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty.
    11. David McClendon & Janet Kuo & R. Raley, 2014. "Opportunities to Meet: Occupational Education and Marriage Formation in Young Adulthood," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 51(4), pages 1319-1344, August.
    12. Ermisch, John & Pevalin, David J., 2004. "Early childbearing and housing choices," Journal of Housing Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(3), pages 170-194, September.
    13. Viviana Salinas, 2016. "Changes in Cohabitation After the Birth of the First Child in Chile," Population Research and Policy Review, Springer;Southern Demographic Association (SDA), vol. 35(3), pages 351-375, June.

    More about this item

    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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