Previous studies have failed to examine (a) the simultaneity of decisions to bear children and to dissolve a marriage and (b) the effects of the childbearing in the period just before dissolution on the likelihood of disruption. We attempted to resolve both problems by developing a simultaneous logit model of the interrelationship between the probability of separation and of having a birth during this period (when dissolution presumably is being considered). The model was estimated at successive durations of first marriage, using data for white women in the 1970 National Fertility Survey. The results indicate that childbearing patterns—number of children and age of youngest child at the beginning of the marital interval being studied and fertility during the interval—did not influence the likelihood of separation in simple or consistent ways over the marital life course, nor did marital strife (as indicated by separation) seem to affect childbearing throughout marriage.

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