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Marital Dissolution, Early Motherhood and Early Marriage

Kristin A. Moore and Linda J. Waite
Social Forces
Vol. 60, No. 1 (Sep., 1981), pp. 20-40
Published by: Oxford University Press
DOI: 10.2307/2577930
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2577930
Page Count: 21
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Marital Dissolution, Early Motherhood and Early Marriage
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Abstract

The age at which a young woman marries appears to be related strongly to the probability that the marriage remains intact: older couples tend to make more stable pairings than those who wed while quite young. But youthful marriages are often accompanied by youthful childbearing. The effects of the age at which the woman first wed and the age at which she bore her first child on the likelihood that the marriage dissolved during this period were assessed, net of each other and of other characteristics and circumstances of the woman. We found that, among young wives, teenage parenthood did not appear to increase the risk of divorce or separation, whereas teenage marriage significantly raised the probability of disruption. When the analysis was performed separately by race, this pattern held among white wives; however, for black wives a first birth before the age of 20 was found to increase instability more than a first marriage before that age. The finding that age at first marriage but not age at first birth is significantly related to the probability of marital dissolution appears robust in the total sample: among subsamples of wives all married at about the same age, the age at which they had their first birth did not influence stability of marriages.

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