Little is known about why cohabiting couples have fewer children than married couples. We explore the factors that explain the difference in fertility between these two groups using a switching regression analysis, which enables us to quantify the contribution of different factors through a decomposition of the difference. We find that married couples have more children than cohabiting couples primarily because marriage provides stronger incentives for specialization in household production. Unobserved self-selection plays a less important role.
Fertility marriage cohabitation switching regression self-selection household specialization