Family Matters No. 63 - December 2002

Marriage, births and fertility

David de Vaus

Abstract

A key purpose of marriage has traditionally been for the bearing and raising of children. Similarly, the only legitimate context in which to give birth was within a registered marriage. Over the last 30 years, along with the fertility decline, there have been major changes in marriage patterns, including a sharp decline in marriage rates and a steady increase in the age at which people marry. While the changing marriage patterns have largely mirrored changing fertility patterns, the link between marriage and children has been loosened substantially. In this article the author provides a brief picture of ex nuptial births, marital status of teenage mothers, timing of births within marriage, and attitudes about marriage and children over the last 30 years.

A key purpose of marriage has traditionally been for the bearing and raising of children. Similarly, the only legitimate context in which to give birth was within a registered marriage. Over the last 30 years, along with the fertility decline, there have been major changes in marriage patterns, including a sharp decline in marriage rates and a steady increase in the age at which people marry. While the changing marriage patterns have largely mirrored changing fertility patterns, the link between marriage and children has been loosened substantially. In this article the author provides a brief picture of ex nuptial births, marital status of teenage mothers, timing of births within marriage, and attitudes about marriage and children over the last 30 years.

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