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Women's Education and Family Behavior: Trends in Marriage, Divorce and Fertility

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  • Adam Isen
  • Betsey Stevenson

Abstract

This paper examines how marital and fertility patterns have changed along racial and educational lines for men and women. Historically, women with more education have been the least likely to marry and have children, but this marriage gap has eroded as the returns to marriage have changed. Marriage and remarriage rates have risen for women with a college degree relative to women with fewer years of education. However, the patterns of, and reasons for, marriage have changed. College educated women marry later, have fewer children, are less likely to view marriage as "financial security", are happier in their marriages and with their family life, and are not only the least likely to divorce, but have had the biggest decrease in divorce since the 1970s compared to women without a college degree. In contrast, there have been fewer changes in marital patterns by education for men.

Suggested Citation

  • Adam Isen & Betsey Stevenson, 2010. "Women's Education and Family Behavior: Trends in Marriage, Divorce and Fertility," NBER Working Papers 15725, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15725
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Raquel Fernández & Joyce Cheng Wong, 2014. "Free to Leave? A Welfare Analysis of Divorce Regimes," NBER Working Papers 20251, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Miron Tequame & Nyasha Tirivayi, 2015. "Higher education and fertility: Evidence from a natural experiment in Ethiopia," CINCH Working Paper Series 1509, Universitaet Duisburg-Essen, Competent in Competition and Health, revised Aug 2015.
    3. Betsey Stevenson & Justin Wolfers, 2009. "The Paradox of Declining Female Happiness," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 1(2), pages 190-225, August.
    4. Gray, Joanna & Stockard, Jean & Stone, Joe, 2010. "A birth-cohort test of the wilson willis model of nonmarital fertility," MPRA Paper 22538, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Almudena Sevilla-Sanz & Delia Furtado and Miriam Marcen, 2010. "Does Culture Affect Divorce Decisions? Evidence from European Immigrants in the US," Economics Series Working Papers 495, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    6. Bellido, Héctor & Marcén, Miriam, 2016. "On the relationship between BMI and marital dissolution," MPRA Paper 73868, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    7. James Fenske & Igor Zurimendi, 2017. "Oil and ethnic inequality in Nigeria," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 22(4), pages 397-420, December.
    8. Fatih Guvenen & Michelle Rendall, 2015. "Women's Emancipation through Education: A Macroeconomic Analysis," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 18(4), pages 931-956, October.
    9. Lu, Yan & Ray, Sugata & Teo, Melvyn, 2016. "Limited attention, marital events and hedge funds," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 122(3), pages 607-624.
    10. Betsey Stevenson & Justin Wolfers, 2008. "Happiness Inequality in the United States," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 37(S2), pages 33-79, June.
    11. Chinhui Juhn & Kristin McCue, 2015. "Selection and Specialization in the Evolution of Marriage Earnings Gaps," Working Papers 15-36, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
    12. Jennifer Montez & Erika Sabbath & M. Glymour & Lisa Berkman, 2014. "Trends in Work–Family Context Among U.S. Women by Education Level, 1976 to 2011," Population Research and Policy Review, Springer;Southern Demographic Association (SDA), vol. 33(5), pages 629-648, October.
    13. Gicheva, Dora, 2016. "Student loans or marriage? A look at the highly educated," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 53(C), pages 207-216.
    14. Poh Lin Tan, 2017. "The impact of school entry laws on female education and teenage fertility," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 30(2), pages 503-536, April.
    15. Powdthavee, Nattavudh & Lekfuangfu, Warn N. & Wooden, Mark, 2015. "What's the good of education on our overall quality of life? A simultaneous equation model of education and life satisfaction for Australia," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 54(C), pages 10-21.
    16. Groneck, Max & Schön, Matthias & Wallenius, Johanna, 2016. "You Better Get Married! Marital Status and Intra-Generational Redistribution of Social Security," Annual Conference 2016 (Augsburg): Demographic Change 145801, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    17. Sheela Kennedy & Steven Ruggles, 2014. "Breaking Up Is Hard to Count: The Rise of Divorce in the United States, 1980–2010," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 51(2), pages 587-598, April.
    18. repec:wsi:medjxx:v:04:y:2012:i:02:n:s1793812012500083 is not listed on IDEAS
    19. repec:eee:trapol:v:57:y:2017:i:c:p:41-50 is not listed on IDEAS
    20. Groneck, Max & Wallenius, Johanna, 2017. "It Sucks to Be Single! Marital Status and Redistribution of Social Security," SSE Working Paper Series in Economics 2017:1, Stockholm School of Economics.
    21. You, Jing & Yi, Xuejie & Chen, Meng, 2016. "Love, Life, and “Leftover Ladies” in Urban China," MPRA Paper 70494, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    22. Jin Young Lee, 2014. "The Plateau in U.S. Women's Labor Force Participation: A Cohort Analysis," Industrial Relations: A Journal of Economy and Society, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 53(1), pages 46-71, January.
    23. Delia Furtado & Miriam Marcén & Almudena Sevilla, 2013. "Does Culture Affect Divorce? Evidence From European Immigrants in the United States," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 50(3), pages 1013-1038, June.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics
    • J11 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Demographic Trends, Macroeconomic Effects, and Forecasts
    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination

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