An international transition away from familially arranged marriages toward participation in spouse choice has endured for decades and continues to spread through rural Asia today. Although we know that this transformation has important consequences for childbearing early in marriage, we know much less about longer-term consequences of this marital revolution. Drawing on theories of family and fertility change and a rural Asian panel study designed to measure changes in both marital and childbearing behaviors, this study seeks to investigate these long-term consequences. Controlling for social changes that shape both marital practices and childbearing behaviors, and explicitly considering multiple dimensions of marital processes, we find evidence consistent with an independent, long-standing association of participation in spouse choice with higher rates of contraception to terminate childbearing. These results add a new dimension to the evidence linking revolutions in marital behavior to long-term declines in fertility and suggest that new research should consider a broader range of long-term consequences of changing marital processes.
PMCID: PMC3786027. (Pub Med Central)