No Ring, No Baby: How Marriage Trends Impact Fertility
America’s birth rate is falling far below what is needed to maintain economic growth, and below what women themselves say they want. But while this demographic decline is easy enough to describe, solutions are harder to come by. Quick policy fixes, like more parental leave or financial incentives, may have some effect but are likely to be quite expensive relative to their modest impact on birth rates. A large part of the decline in birth rates can be directly accounted for by a factor unlikely to be influenced by those birth-targeted incentives: marriage. That is, most long-run change in fertility can be accounted for by changes in the marital composition of society.