Journal of Population Economics

, Volume 31, Issue 4, pp 1067–1095 | Cite as

Not your lucky day: romantically and numerically special wedding date divorce risks

  • Jan Kabátek
  • David C. Ribar
Original Paper


Characteristics of couples on or about their wedding day and characteristics of weddings have been shown to predict marital outcomes. Little is known, however, about how the dates of the weddings correlate with marriage durability. Using Dutch marriage and divorce registries from 1999 to 2013, this study compares the durations of marriages that began on unusually popular wedding dates with marriages on ordinary dates. We identify several distinct types of popular dates, including Valentine’s Day and numerically special days (dates with the same or sequential number values, e.g., 9.9.99, 1.2.03), showing that on an adjusted basis, the incidence of weddings on such dates was 137–509% higher than ordinary dates. The hazard odds of divorce for these special-date weddings were 18–36% higher than ordinary-date weddings. Sorting on couples’ observable characteristics accounts for some of the higher divorce risks, but even after controlling for these characteristics, special-date weddings were more vulnerable, with 10–17% higher divorce odds compared to ordinary dates. These relationships are even stronger for couples who have not married before.


Marriage Divorce Valentine’s Day Commitment Weddings 

JEL classification




This research was supported by the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Children and Families over the Life Course. The authors thank Andrew Cherlin, Robert Haveman, Jongsay Yong, colleagues at the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, workshop participants at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and two anonymous reviewers for helpful comments. However, the authors’ findings and views are their own and should not be attributed to the Melbourne Institute.

Funding information

Both authors were supported by the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Children and Families over the Life Course.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Melbourne Institute: Applied Economic and Social Research and ARC Centre of Excellence for Children and Families over the Life CourseUniversity of MelbourneMelbourneAustralia
  2. 2.Institute of Labor Economics (IZA)BonnGermany
  3. 3.CentERTilburg University; and NetsparTilburgNetherlands

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