Abstract

Since the early 1970s Australia has experienced a pronounced trend to later and less universal marriage. This stands in sharp contrast to a marriage boom that began with the outbreak of World War II and lasted for three decades. The boom was the product of three sets of forces: those peculiar to wartime, those emerging in the early postwar period and creating a climate favorable to marriage, and those surfacing in the 1960s with the advent of oral contraception. Its reversal is attributed largely to less frequent resort to marriage when premaritally pregnant, the rise of cohabitation as a prelude or alternative to marriage, economic forces hindering family formation, and ideological change.

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