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

See all articles by Jeremy Greenwood

Jeremy Greenwood

University of Pennsylvania - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Nezih Guner

Centre for Monetary and Financial Studies (CEMFI)

Karen A. Kopecky

Federal Reserve Banks - Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta

Date Written: March 23, 2020

Abstract

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

Suggested Citation

Greenwood, Jeremy and Guner, Nezih and Kopecky, Karen A., The Wife's Protector: A Quantitative Theory Linking Contraceptive Technology with the Decline in Marriage (March 23, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3424460 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3424460

Jeremy Greenwood (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania - Department of Economics ( email )

Ronald O. Perelman Center for Political Science
133 South 36th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6297
United States
215-898-1505 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://jeremygreenwood.net

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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Cambridge, MA 02138
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Nezih Guner

Centre for Monetary and Financial Studies (CEMFI) ( email )

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Spain

Karen A. Kopecky

Federal Reserve Banks - Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta ( email )

1000 Peachtree Street N.E.
Atlanta, GA 30309-4470
United States

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