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An Analysis of Out-of-Wedlock Childbearing in the United States

George A. Akerlof, Janet L. Yellen and Michael L. Katz ()

The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 1996, vol. 111, issue 2, pages 277-317

Abstract: This paper relates the erosion of the custom of shotgun marriage to the legalization of abortion and the increased availability of contraception to unmarried women in the United States. The decline in shotgun marriage accounts for a significant fraction of the increase in out-of-wedlock first births. Several models illustrate the analogy between women who do not adopt either birth control or abortion and the hand-loom weavers, both victims of changing technology. Mechanisms causing female immiseration are modeled and historically described. This technology-shock hypothesis is an alternative to welfare and job-shortage theories of the feminization of poverty. Copyright 1996, the President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Date: 1996
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