The Economics of Changing Family Structures: The Public Interest in Marriage and Family Formation

  • Megan McDonald WayEmail author
Part of the Palgrave Studies in American Economic History book series (AEH)


This chapter looks at the interests of the government in marriage, the economic factors that determine the value of marriage, and the economic reasons behind and results of the decline in marriage, increase in divorce, and increase in non-marital childbearing in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Marital and family formation trends since the 1860s are described, along with the impact of unilateral divorce, no-fault divorce, and child support laws on bargaining within marriage and on the economic value of marriage. The chapter details the correlation between single parenthood and child poverty, and explores potential policies that could result in more stable low-income families, such as programs to prevent teen pregnancy, criminal justice reform, and a universal basic income (UBI).

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Babson CollegeBabson ParkUSA

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