Abstract

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.

This content is only available as a PDF.

References

Becker, Gary S. (
1986
).
A Treatise on the Family
.
Cambridge. MA
:
Harvard University Press
.
Becker, Gary S., Landes, Elizabeth, & Michael, Robert T. (
1977
).
An Economic Analysis of Marital Instability
.
Journal of Political Economy
,
85
,
1141
87
. 10.1086/260631
Ben-Porath, Yoram (
1975
).
First-Generation Effects on Second-Generation Fertility
.
Demography
,
12
,
397
406
. 10.2307/2060823
Cherlin, Andrew (
1977
).
The Effect of Children on Marital Dissolution
.
Demography
,
14
,
265
72
. 10.2307/2060785
Ben-Porath, Yoram (
1978
).
Remarriage as an Incomplete Institution
.
American Journal of Sociology
,
84
,
634
5.0
. 10.1086/226830
Chester, Robert (
1974
).
Is There a Relationship between Childlessness and Marriage Breakdown?
. In Peck, E., & Senderowitz, J. (Eds.),
Pronatalism: The Myth of Mom and Apple Pie
(pp.
114
26
).
Ithaca
:
Cornell University Press
.
Falaris, Evangelos M. (
1987
).
An Empirical Study of the Timing and Spacing of Childbearing
.
Southern Economic Journal
,
54
,
287
300
. 10.2307/1059314
Glick, Paul C., & Norton, Arthur J. (
1977
).
Frequency, Duration, and Probability of Marriage and Divorce
.
Journal of Marriage and the Family
,
33
,
307
17
. 10.2307/349416
Hannan, Michael T., Tuma, Nancy Brandon, & Groeneveld, Lyle P. (
1977
).
Income and Marital Events: Evidence from an Income-Maintenance Experiment
.
American Journal of Sociology
,
82
(
6
),
1186
1211
. 10.1086/226463
Jacob, Herbert (
1988
).
The Silent Revolution: The Transformation of Divorce Law in the United States
.
Chicago
:
University of Chicago Press
.
Koo, Helen P., & Janowitz, Barbara K. (
1983
).
Interrelationships between Fertility and Marital Dissolution: Results of a Simultaneous Logit Model
.
Demography
,
20
,
129
45
. 10.2307/2061231
Lillard, Lee A. (
1993
).
Simultaneous Equations for Hazards
.
Journal of Econometrics
,
56
,
189
217
. 10.1016/0304-4076(93)90106-F
Lillard, Lee A., & Waite, Linda J. (
1990
).
Panel Versus Retrospective Data on Marital Histories: Lessons from the PSID
. In Beaton, H. V., Ganni, D. A., & Frankel, D. T. (Eds.),
Individuals and Families in Transition: Understanding Change through Longitudinal Data
.
Washington, DC
:
U.S. Bureau of the Census
.
McCarthy, James (
1979
).
Religious Commitment, Affiliation, and Marriage Dissolution
. In Wuthnow, Robert (Ed.),
The Religious Dimension: New Directions in Quantitative Research
(pp.
179
97
).
New York
:
Academic Press
.
Michael, Robert T., & Tuma, Nancy Brandon (
1985
).
Entry into Marriage and Parenthood by Young Men and Women: The Influence of Family Background
.
Demography
,
22
,
515
44
. 10.2307/2061586
Morgan, S. Philip, & Rindfuss, Ronald R (
1985
).
Marital Disruption: Structural and Temporal Dimensions
.
American Journal of Sociology
,
90
,
1055
77
. 10.1086/228176
Mott, Frank L., & Moore, Sylvia F. (
1979
).
The Causes of Marital Disruption among Young American Women: An Interdisciplinary Perspective
.
Journal of Marriage and the Family
,
41
(
2
),
355
65
. 10.2307/351702
Nakada, Michael and Michael P. Ward. 1982. “A Dynamic Model of Marital Dissolution: A Note.” Paper presented at the meetings of the Population Association of America, San Diego.
Peters, H. Elizabeth (
1986
).
Marriage and Divorce: Informational Constraints and Private Contracting
.
American Economic Review
,
76
,
437
54
.
Rindfuss, Ronald R., Morgan, S. P., & Swicegood, C. Gray (
1984
).
The Transitions to Motherhood: The Intersection of Structural and Temporal Dimensions
.
American Sociological Review
,
45
,
431
47
. 10.2307/2095176
Rindfuss, Ronald R. (
1988
).
First Births in America: Changes in the Timing of Parenthood
.
Berkeley
:
University of California Press
.
Schoen, Robert (
1975
).
California Divorce Rates by Age at First Marriage and Duration of First Marriage
.
Journal of Marriage and the Family
,
37
,
548
55
. 10.2307/350518
Seiver, Daniel A. (
1978
).
Which Couples at Given Parities Have Additional Births
. In Simon, Julian (Ed.),
Research in Population Economics
(pp.
309
19
).
Greenwich, CT
:
JAI
.
South, Scott J., & Spitze, Glenna (
1986
).
Determinants of Divorce over the Marital Life Course
.
American Sociological Review
,
51
,
583
90
. 10.2307/2095590
Teachman, Jay D., & Polonko, Karen (
1985
).
Timing of the Transition to Parenthood: A Multidimensional Birth-Interval Approach
.
Journal of Marriage and the Family
,
47
,
867
79
. 10.2307/352330
Udry, J. Richard (
1983
).
Do Couples Make Fertility Plans One Birth at a Time?
.
Demography
,
20
,
117
28
. 10.2307/2061230
Waite, Linda J., Haggstrom, Gus W., & Kanouse, David E. (
1985
).
Parenthood and Marital Stability
.
American Sociological Review
,
50
,
850
57
. 10.2307/2095508
Waite, Linda J., & Lillard, Lee A (
1991
).
Children and Marital Disruption
.
American Journal of Sociology
,
96
,
930
53
. 10.1086/229613
Willis, Robert J. (
1974
).
Economic Theory of Fertility Behavior
. In Schultz, Theodore W (Ed.),
Economics of the Family: Marriage, Children, and Human Capital
(pp.
25
75
).
Chicago
:
University of Chicago Press
.