The Wife's Protector: A Quantitative Theory Linking Contraceptive Technology with the Decline in Marriage
58 Pages Posted: 24 Jul 2019 Last revised: 10 May 2021
Date Written: March 23, 2020
The 19th and 20th centuries saw a transformation in contraceptive technologies and their take up. This led to a sexual revolution, which witnessed a rise in premarital sex and out-of-wedlock births, and a decline in marriage. The impact of contraception on married and single life is analyzed here both theoretically and quantitatively. The analysis is conducted using a model where people search for partners. Upon finding one, they can choose between abstinence, marriage, and a premarital sexual relationship. The model is confronted with some stylized facts about premarital sex and marriage over the course of the 20th century. Some economic history is also presented. This research is now published in the Handbook of Historical Economics, edited by Alberto Bison and Federico Giovanni, (Amsterdam: Academic Press, Elsevier), 903-943.
Keywords: age of marriage, contraceptive technology, never-married population, number of partners, out-of-wedlock births, premarital sex, singles
JEL Classification: E1, J1, N3, 03
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