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The Wife's Protector: A Quantitative Theory Linking Contraceptive Technology with the Decline in Marriage

Jeremy Greenwood, Nezih Guner, Karen A. Kopecky

NBER Working Paper No. 26410
Issued in October 2019
NBER Program(s):Program on the Development of the American Economy, Economic Fluctuations and Growth Program, Labor Studies Program

The 19th and 20th centuries saw a transformation in contraceptive technologies and their take up. This led to a sexual revolution, which witnessed a rise in premarital sex and out-of-wedlock births, and a decline in marriage. The impact of contraception on married and single life is analyzed here both theoretically and quantitatively. The analysis is conducted using a model where people search for partners. Upon finding one, they can choose between abstinence, marriage, and a premarital sexual relationship. The model is confronted with some stylized facts about premarital sex and marriage over the course of the 20th century. Some economic history is also presented.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w26410

 
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