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Delayed Entry into First Marriage: Further Evidence on the Becker-Landes-Michael Hypothesis

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  • Lehrer, Evelyn L.

    ()
    (University of Illinois at Chicago)

  • Chen, Yu

    ()
    (University of Illinois at Chicago)

Abstract

In their pioneering research, Becker, Landes and Michael (1977) found that beyond age 30 there is a positive relationship between women's age at first marriage and marital instability. They interpreted this finding as a "poor-match" effect emerging as the biological clock begins to tick. In analyses of the 2006-2010 National Surveys of Family Growth (NSFG), we find evidence of the existence of this effect: women who delay marriage disproportionately make unconventional matches, which are generally associated with high marital instability (N = 3,184). We also find, however, that their unions are very solid. We develop and test competing hypotheses that can account for these patterns. In addition, noting that women's delayed transition to first marriage has been accompanied by higher proportions of women entering marriage with 16 years of schooling or more, we examine changes across the last three NSFG cycles in the education - marital instability association.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 6729.

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Length: 30 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp6729

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Keywords: divorce; marital stability; marital instability; marriage; marriage dissolution;

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  1. Becker, Gary S & Landes, Elisabeth M & Michael, Robert T, 1977. "An Economic Analysis of Marital Instability," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(6), pages 1141-87, December.
  2. Akerlof, George A & Yellen, Janet L & Katz, Michael L, 1996. "An Analysis of Out-of-Wedlock Childbearing in the United States," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 111(2), pages 277-317, May.
  3. Boheim, Rene & Ermisch, John, 2001. " Partnership Dissolution in the UK--The Role of Economic Circumstances," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 63(2), pages 197-208, May.
  4. Betsey Stevenson & Justin Wolfers, 2007. "Marriage and divorce: changes and their driving forces," Working Paper Series 2007-03, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
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  7. Thomas Lemieux, 2008. "The changing nature of wage inequality," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 21(1), pages 21-48, January.
  8. Zhenchao Qian, 1998. "Changes in assortative mating: The impact of age and education, 1970–1890," Demography, Springer, vol. 35(3), pages 279-292, August.
  9. Robert B. Ekelund Jr. & Robert F. Hebert & Robert D. Tollison, 2008. "The Marketplace of Christianity," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262550717, December.
  10. Raquel Fernandez & Richard Rogerson, 2000. "Sorting and Long-Run Inequality," NBER Working Papers 7508, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Lehrer, Evelyn L., 2006. "Age at Marriage and Marital Instability: Revisiting the Becker-Landes-Michael Hypothesis," IZA Discussion Papers 2166, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  12. Michael Svarer, 2004. "Is Your Love in Vain? Another Look at Premarital Cohabitation and Divorce," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(2).
  13. Guiping Liu, 2002. "How premarital children and childbearing in current marriage influence divorce of Swedish women in their first marriages," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 7(10), pages 389-406, August.
  14. Melvyn G. Coles & Marco Francesconi, 2011. "On The Emergence Of Toyboys: The Timing Of Marriage With Aging And Uncertain Careers," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 52(3), pages 825-853, 08.
  15. Christine Schwartz & Robert Mare, 2005. "Trends in educational assortative marriage from 1940 to 2003," Demography, Springer, vol. 42(4), pages 621-646, November.
  16. Torkild Lyngstad & Marika Jalovaara, 2010. "A review of the antecedents of union dissolution," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 23(10), pages 257-292, August.
  17. Teresa Martin & Larry Bumpass, 1989. "Recent trends in marital disruption," Demography, Springer, vol. 26(1), pages 37-51, February.
  18. Jay Teachman, 2002. "Stability across cohorts in divorce risk factors," Demography, Springer, vol. 39(2), pages 331-351, May.
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