November 2019

IZA DP No. 12760: The Wife's Protector: A Quantitative Theory Linking Contraceptive Technology with the Decline in Marriage

The 19th and 20th centuries saw a transformation in contraceptive technologies and their take up. This led to a sexual revolution, which witnessed a rise in premarital sex and out-of-wedlock births, and a decline in marriage. The impact of contraception on married and single life is analyzed here both theoretically and quantitatively. The analysis is conducted using a model where people search for partners. Upon finding one, they can choose between abstinence, marriage, and a premarital sexual relationship. The model is confronted with some stylized facts about premarital sex and marriage over the course of the 20th century. Some economic history is also presented.