Divorce, Fertility and the Value of Marriage

34 Pages Posted: 25 Apr 2007

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

Date Written: April 2007

Abstract

Easier divorce has two effects on marriage rates and fertility. It dilutes the value of marriage, therefore reducing marriage rates and marital fertility and potentially increasing out of wedlock fertility. But easier divorce reduces also the commitment cost of marriage leading women to "try" marriage especially when in child bearing age or even already pregnant. We find that total fertility and out-of-wedlock fertility decline after the introduction of unilateral divorce. 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 marital fertility does not change, probably as a result of an increase in divorce and marital instability. Therefore we find strong evidence consistent with the "commitment effect".

Keywords: Divorce Laws, Fertility, Marriage

JEL Classification: J12, J13

Suggested Citation

Alesina, Alberto F. and Giuliano, Paola, Divorce, Fertility and the Value of Marriage (April 2007). Harvard Institute of Economic Research Discussion Paper No. 2136. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=982406 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.982406

Alberto F. Alesina (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Department of Economics ( email )

Littauer Center
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-495-8388 (Phone)
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Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

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United Kingdom

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Paola Giuliano

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

110 Westwood Plaza
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1481
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) ( email )

London
United Kingdom

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

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