Divorce, Fertility and the Shot Gun Marriage

39 Pages Posted: 2 May 2006

See all articles by Alberto F. Alesina

Alberto F. Alesina

Harvard University - Department of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Paola Giuliano

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Anderson School of Management; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: May 2006

Abstract

Using the birth certificates data from the Vital Statistics of the USA between 1968 and 1999, we construct state level panel data of different measures of fertility and examine the change in divorce laws. Total fertility declined in states that introduced unilateral divorce, which makes dissolution of marriage easier. Most of this effect is due to a decline of out-of-wedlock fertility. We suggest an explanation (and provide supportive evidence for it) based upon the effect of divorce laws on the probability of entering and exiting marriage. Women planning to have children marry more easily with an easier "exit option" from marriage. Thus, more children are born in the first years of marriage, while the total marital fertility does not change, probably as a result of an increase in divorces and marital instability. The effect of changes in divorce laws is greater among whites than African Americans.

Keywords: Divorce Laws, Fertility, Marriage

JEL Classification: J12, J13

Suggested Citation

Alesina, Alberto F. and Giuliano, Paola, Divorce, Fertility and the Shot Gun Marriage (May 2006). IZA Discussion Paper No. 2157; HIER Discussion Paper No. 2117. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=900146

Alberto F. Alesina (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Department of Economics ( email )

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Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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Paola Giuliano

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Anderson School of Management ( email )

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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

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Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) ( email )

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United Kingdom

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

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Germany

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