Fertility Treatments and Divorce

Anna Barbuscia, Oxford University
Maria Sironi, University College London

The experience of infertility and subsequent treatment is a very stressful one and may lead to lower couple satisfaction and instability, or conversely bring the partners closer together and increase marital stability. High levels of couples satisfaction have been usually observed among couples during or just after the treatment. However, little evidence exists on the probability of divorce following a treatment, especially in the longer term. Further, virtually no studies have considered both successful and unsuccessful treatments, which is a crucial distinction since the experience of childbearing is itself a main determinant of marital stability.

This study investigates the association between the use of fertility treatment and divorce in a sample of American women in their first marriage (N=11,498). Discrete-time event history analysis on data from the National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG) 2002-2013 shows that women who received medical help to get pregnant have a lower probability of experiencing divorce. This is especially true when the treatment is successful. However, also women who do not experience alive birth after the treatment have a lower probability of divorce compared to childless women who never started a fertility treatment

Presented in Session 37: Union Dissolution