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Family composition and marital dissolution in rural Nepal, 1945–2008

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The presence, number, sex, and age composition of children within families can have important influences on couples’ marital outcomes. Children are valued across settings, but their value in settings where there is an absence of formalized social security is distinctive. This paper explores the influences of childlessness, and different number, age, and sex compositions of children, on the odds of marital dissolution among couples in rural Nepal. Results reveal that childless couples face significantly higher odds of dissolution than couples with at least one child, and each additional child—up to three children—reduces couples’ odds of dissolution. Furthermore, having a child aged under two reduces couples’ odds of marital dissolution, but interactions reveal that this age effect only holds at parity one. Surprisingly, despite a history of son preference in this setting, there is no evidence that children’s within-parity sex composition is associated with the odds of marital dissolution.
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Keywords: South Asia; divorce; family composition; fertility; marital dissolution

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Harvard University,

Publication date: May 4, 2017

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