Married couples with children appear to be less likely to end their marriages than childless couples, especially when the children are young. Although this suggests that children affect the chances that their parents will divorce, the process may not be so simple: the chances that the marriage will last also may affect couples’ willingness to make the commitment to the marriage implied by having children. This paper uses data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) to test the hypothesis that the risk of disruption faced by a married woman affects the chances that she will conceive and bear a child. The model used takes into account the simultaneous relationships between marital dissolution and marital fertility by including the hazard of disruption as a predictor of timing and likelihood of marital conception, and by including the results of previous fertility decisions as predictors of disruption of the marriage. We find that the hazard of disruption has strong negative effects on the hazard of marital childbearing, lengthening the intervals between births and decreasing the chances that a child will be born. This effect appears to be strongest for women who have had at least one child, either before or during the current marriage, although it is also large for childless women. Explicitly including the hazard of disruption in models of marital childbearing has sizable and important effects on many predictors of fertility.

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