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Citation Information

Type Journal Article - Journal of Human Resources
Title Impact of Changes in Marriage Law Implications for Fertility and School Enrollment
Volume 50
Issue 3
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2015
Page numbers 614-654
URL http://econweb.ucsd.edu/~prbharadwaj/index/Papers_files/Bharadwaj Marriage Law Jan 2010.pdf
Does the postponement of marriage affect fertility and investment in human capital? I
study this question in the context of a 1957 amendment to the marriage law in Mississippi that was
aimed at delaying the age of marriage. Changes included raising the minimum age for men and
women, parental consent requirements, compulsory blood tests and proof of age. Using difference in
differences at the county level, I find that overall marriages per 1000 in the population decreased by
nearly 75%; crude birth rate decreased by nearly 9.5%; and school enrollment increased by 3% after
the passage of the law (by 1960). An unintended consequence of the law change was that illegitimate
births among young black mothers increased by 7%. I show that changes in labor market conditions
during this period cannot explain the changes in marriages, births and enrollment. I conclude that
stricter marriage-related regulation leading to a delay in marriage can postpone fertility and increase
school enrollment. However, my findings suggest that these changes had no effect on completed
fertility and could also increase illegitimacy.

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