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The Effect of Marital Dissolution on Fertility

Patience Lauriat
Journal of Marriage and Family
Vol. 31, No. 3 (Aug., 1969), pp. 484-493
DOI: 10.2307/349770
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/349770
Page Count: 10
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The Effect of Marital Dissolution on Fertility
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Abstract

The purpose of the paper is to demonstrate that marital dissolution in a society such as ours results in an overall loss in fertility. However, it is also necessary to consider differentials such such as age, color, age at first marriage, and time elapsed since first marriage. Distinction is made between women in continuous and discontinuous marriages, the latter category being divided into those women who remarried and those who did not. In 1960, remarried white women under 30 years, widows under 25, and divorcees under 20 had borne more children than their respective counterparts in continuous marriages. However, the higher fertility for the younger women in discontinuous marriages is demonstrated to be largely a function of lower age at marriage for those women. Age at first marriage is lowest for remarried women. Census data (1960) on cumulative and retrospective birth rates by number of years after first marriage indicate that remarried and divorced white women tend to have higher fertility during the first 18 months after their first marriage than women in continuous marriages. The data also suggest remarried women tend to make up for the fertility they presumably would have experienced had they remained in their previous marriage. Women 35 to 44 years in discontinuous marriages had experienced only 79 percent as much fertility as comparable women in continuous marriages, when age at marriage was held constant and fertility was measured in terms of children ever born per 1,000 women. As expected, the loss was greatest for divorced women who did not remarry, intermediate for remarried women, and least for widowed women.

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