The relationship between marital breakdown and childbearing in England and Wales
Citation: Clarke, S., Diamond, I., Spicer, K., Chappell, R. (1993) The relationship between marital breakdown and childbearing in England and Wales.
England and Wales experienced a fast increase in the divorce rates after 1971 Divorce Act. The growth rates slowed down into the late 1970s and 1980s and this may be associated with later marriage and an increase in cohabitation that might have resulted in lower rates of marital breakdown. The motivation of the paper is to address if women in new unions change their fertility behavior. The paper uses data on women from General Household Surveys for 1986-89 to form combined multiple decrement tables of transitions from first marriage through childbearing, divorce and remarriage. It shows that ultimately women who experience one marital breakdown tend to have the same number of children, as a group, as those who remain married. However, their time to complete childbearing is rather longer with this extra time being concentrated largely in the birth interval in which the marital breakdown takes place. Women who experience more than one marital breakdown tend to have more children and consequently shorter birth intervals.