IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Women's Age at First Marriage and Marital Instability: Evidence from the 2006-2008 National Survey of Family Growth


  • Lehrer, Evelyn L.

    () (University of Illinois at Chicago)

  • Chen, Yu

    () (University of Illinois at Chicago)


One of the most salient demographic trends in the U.S. landscape in recent decades has been the pronounced increase in age at first marriage. This paper examines the implications of women's delayed entry to marriage for marital stability using data from the 2006-2008 National Survey of Family Growth. The main finding is that the association between age at marriage and marital instability without holding constant the couple's characteristics at marriage is negative up to the late twenties, with the curve leveling off thereafter. Women who marry in the late twenties and thirties generally enter unconventional matches (e.g., the husband is more likely to have been married before, and to be younger than the wife by three years or more), suggestive of a "poor match" emerging as the biological clock begins to tick. However, the flattening out of the curve beyond the late twenties suggests that the stabilizing influence associated with greater maturity at older ages is strong enough to cancel out the poor match effect.

Suggested Citation

  • Lehrer, Evelyn L. & Chen, Yu, 2011. "Women's Age at First Marriage and Marital Instability: Evidence from the 2006-2008 National Survey of Family Growth," IZA Discussion Papers 5954, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp5954

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Zhang, Chuanchuan, 2012. "结婚年龄与婚姻的稳定性:来自断点回归的证据
      [Age at marriage and marital stability: evidence from a regression discontinuity design]
      ," MPRA Paper 38809, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item


    divorce; marriage dissolution; marital instability; marriage;

    JEL classification:

    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp5954. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Mark Fallak). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.