Influences of Child Composition on Marital Dissolution: Evidence from South Asia

Elyse Jennings, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

The presence, number, and specific characteristics of children can have important influences on couples’ likelihood of marital dissolution. Children are valued across settings. In South Asia the value of children for their parents is not only psychological, but is also explicitly economic. In this paper, I explore the influences of childlessness, family size, and sex composition on the odds of marital dissolution among couples in Nepal. Results reveal that childless couples face significantly higher odds of dissolution than couples with at least one child, and each additional child—but only up to parity three—reduces couples’ odds of dissolution. Furthermore, having a child under the age of three reduces couples’ odds of marital dissolution, but interactions revealed that this age effect only holds at parities one and two. Consistent with other research, I find that sons can have a suppressing influence in this setting, but only among couples with one child.

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Presented in Session 30: Gender and Union Dissolution