Using the ON DELETE CASCADE Option

Use the ON DELETE CASCADE option to specify whether you want rows deleted in a child table when corresponding rows are deleted in the parent table. If you do not specify cascading deletes, the default behavior of the database server prevents you from deleting data in a table if other tables reference it.

If you specify this option, later when you delete a row in the parent table, the database server also deletes any rows associated with that row (foreign keys) in a child table. The principal advantage to the cascading-deletes feature is that it allows you to reduce the quantity of SQL statements you need to perform delete actions.

For example, the all_candy table contains the candy_num column as a primary key. The hard_candy table refers to the candy_num column as a foreign key. The following CREATE TABLE statement creates the hard_candy table with the cascading-delete option on the foreign key:
CREATE TABLE all_candy 
   (candy_num SERIAL PRIMARY KEY,
    candy_maker CHAR(25));

CREATE TABLE hard_candy 
   (candy_num INT, 
    candy_flavor CHAR(20),
    FOREIGN KEY (candy_num) REFERENCES all_candy

Because ON DELETE CASCADE is specified for the dependent table, when a row of the all_candy table is deleted, the corresponding rows of the hard_candy table are also deleted. For information about syntax restrictions and locking implications when you delete rows from tables that have cascading deletes, see Considerations When Tables Have Cascading Deletes.

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