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Unmarried fertility, crime, and cocial stigma

  • Kendall, Todd
  • Tamura, Robert

Children born to unmarried parents may receive lower human capital investments in youth, leading to higher levels of criminal activity as adults. Therefore, unmarried fertility may be positively associated with future crime. On the other hand, in an environment in which social stigma attached to non-marital fertility is high, many low match quality parents will choose (or be forced) to marry, and children reared in these families may actually be worse off than had their parents not married. We explore these effects empirically, finding that over the long run, unmarried fertility is positively associated with murder and property crime, but that the degree of social stigma has affected this relationship. For instance, our results suggest that some marriages in the 1940s and 1950s were of such low quality that the children involved would have been better off in single-parent households; however, this finding is reversed for marriages in the 1960s and thereafter – many marriages that would have benefited children have since been foregone. We also discuss implications for the debate over the “abortion-crime” link of Donohue and Levitt (2001).

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Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 8031.

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Date of creation: 01 Apr 2008
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:8031
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  1. Chad Turner & Robert Tamura & Sean Mulholland & Scott Baier, 2007. "Education and income of the states of the United States: 1840–2000," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 12(2), pages 101-158, June.
  2. Donohue, John J & Wolfers, Justin, 2006. "Uses and Abuses of Empirical Evidence in the Death Penalty Debate," CEPR Discussion Papers 5493, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Mark Duggan, 2000. "More Guns, More Crime," NBER Working Papers 7967, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Roland G. Fryer & Paul S. Heaton & Steven D. Levitt & Kevin M. Murphy, 2005. "Measuring the Impact of Crack Cocaine," NBER Working Papers 11318, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Anna Aizer & Sara McLanahan, 2005. "The Impact of Child Support Enforcement on Fertility, Parental Investment and Child Well-Being," NBER Working Papers 11522, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Hunt, Jennifer, 2003. "Teen Births Keep American Crime High," CEPR Discussion Papers 3906, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  8. Stevenson, Betsey & Wolfers, Justin, 2003. "Bargaining in the Shadow of the Law: Divorce Laws and Family Distress," Research Papers 1828, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
  9. Murphy, Kevin M & Topel, Robert H, 1985. "Estimation and Inference in Two-Step Econometric Models," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 3(4), pages 370-79, October.
  10. Cristian Pop-Eleches, 2006. "The Impact of an Abortion Ban on Socioeconomic Outcomes of Children: Evidence from Romania," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 114(4), pages 744-773, August.
  11. David G. Blanchflower & Andrew J. Oswald, 2000. "Well-Being Over Time in Britain and the USA," NBER Working Papers 7487, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  13. Akerlof, George A & Yellen, Janet L & Katz, Michael L, 1996. "An Analysis of Out-of-Wedlock Childbearing in the United States," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 111(2), pages 277-317, May.
  14. John J. Donohue & Steven D. Levitt, 2001. "The Impact Of Legalized Abortion On Crime," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 116(2), pages 379-420, May.
  15. Michael J. Brien & Lee A. Hillard & Linda Waite, . "Cohabitation, Marriage, and Non-Fertility," University of Chicago - Population Research Center 97-5, Chicago - Population Research Center.
  16. repec:lan:wpaper:3699 is not listed on IDEAS
  17. Berggren, Niclas, 1996. "Rhetoric or Reality? An Economic Analysis of the Effects of Religion in Sweden," SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 118, Stockholm School of Economics.
  18. Levine, P-B & Staiger, D & Kane, T-J & Zimmerman, D-J, 1996. "Roe V.Wade and American Fertility," Papers 96-03, Wellesley College - Department of Economics.
  19. L H Kahane & D Paton & R Simmons, 2005. "The abortion-crime link: evidence from England and Wales," Working Papers 574044, Lancaster University Management School, Economics Department.
  20. Lott, John R, Jr & Mustard, David B, 1997. "Crime, Deterrence, and Right-to-Carry Concealed Handguns," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 26(1), pages 1-68, January.
  21. Ted Joyce, 2004. "Further Tests of Abortion and Crime," NBER Working Papers 10564, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  22. Elizabeth Oltmans Ananat & Jonathan Gruber & Phillip B. Levine & Douglas Staiger, 2009. "Abortion and Selection," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 91(1), pages 124-136, February.
  23. Ted Joyce, 2004. "Did Legalized Abortion Lower Crime?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(1).
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