Marriage Squeeze and Changes in Family Formation: Historical Comparative Evidence from Spain, France, and United States during the Twentieth Century

Anna Cabré, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
Albert Esteve, University of Minnesota

The effects of cohort sizes on family formation have been thoroughly studied, since Easterlin, using labor market as explanatory link. The present paper backs a different but converging hypothesis: with universal female lower age at marriage, women of the decreasing birth-cohorts would marry younger and more, marriage market being the explanatory instance. This kind of marriage squeeze should have rapid stimulating effects on nuptiality, contrary to small effects of female excess. In two former works, authors have developed the mechanisms of adjustment and tested them successfully in 20th Century Spain, predicting from findings a reversal of fertility trends performed by the cohorts born after 1980. Using recent comparable census microdata, through IPUMS-i, the study is extended now to France and United States, seeking the generalization of the proof in cases which differ by their chronologies and by the imbalances of sexes at sensible moments, like post World War II.

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Presented in Session 167: The Family in Historical Perspective