Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Working Papers,
University of Aarhus, Aarhus School of Business, Department of Economics

No 03-4: Do Children Stabilize Marriages?

Michael Svarer and Mette Verner ()
Additional contact information
Michael Svarer: Department of Economics, University of Aarhus
Mette Verner: Department of Economics, Aarhus School of Business, Postal: The Aarhus School of Business, Prismet, Silkeborgvej 2, DK 8000 Aarhus C, Denmark

Abstract: In this paper we study the relationship between fertility behavior and the process of marriage duration. The potential endogeneity of fertility on marriage behavior is taken into account by modeling fertility and divorce jointly. We apply the ”timing-of-event” method (Abbring & van den Berg (2002)) to identify the causal effect of births on the divorce hazard. We show that couples who are less prone to divorce are more prone to invest in children, and therefore one might (mistakenly) conclude that children tend to stabilize marriages. However, when correcting for the selectivity bias arising from the fertility decision, we conclude that children themselves do not have a positive effect on marriage duration.

Keywords: Marriage; divorce; children

JEL-codes: C30; J12

28 pages, February 1, 2003

Note: Forthcoming in Journal of Population Economics

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