Divorce, Fertility and the Shot Gun Marriage


Alesina, Alberto, and Paola Giuliano. 2006. “Divorce, Fertility and the Shot Gun Marriage”.
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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”


NBER Working Paper No. 12375

Last updated on 04/03/2013