Marriage as a reproductive contract: Patterns of Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage

Leslie Buckle, Gordon G. Gallup, Zachary A. Rodd

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

63 Scopus citations


Patterns of marriage, divorce, remarriage, and redivorce were examined in several representative Western cultures through survey questions and archival data to test the hypothesis that marriage and divorce can be understood as expressions of underlying gender-specific, fitness maximization strategies. Differences between males and females were found for the relationship between age and patterns of both marriage and divorce, with females being far more likely at almost all ages to initiate divorce proceedings than males. Once divorced, however, formerly married females were less likely to remarry than formerly married males. The presence of children from a prior marriage had the effect of further decreasing the likelihood of remarriage for females, but not for males. Formerly married males without children tended to remarry females who had never been married, whereas just the opposite was true for divorced males with children. Consistent with our view of marriage as a reproductive contract, the absence of children was not only conducive to divorce and remarriage, but appeared to increase the likelihood of redivorce as well.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)363-377
Number of pages15
JournalEthology and Sociobiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jan 1 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • Divorce
  • Hypergamy
  • Marriage
  • Remarriage
  • Reproduction
  • Sex differences

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)

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