Understanding Young Women's Marriage Decisions: The Role of Labor and Marriage Market Conditions

Blau, Francine D.; Kahn, Lawrence M.; Waldfogel, Jane

Using the 1970, 1980, and 1990 Censuses, the authors investigate the impact of labor and marriage market conditions on the incidence of marriage of young women (age 16-24). They first estimate the effects on marriage of personal characteristics and Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) indicators, separately by race and education group. They then regress the first-stage MSA effects on MSA-level labor and marriage market conditions and welfare benefits, taking account of fixed effects and time trends specific to each MSA. Better female labor markets, worse female marriage markets, and worse male labor markets are found to lower marriage rates for whites in all education groups. Results for these variables for blacks are sensitive to estimation technique, although stronger results are obtained for an older age group (25-34). While welfare benefits have a negative effect in cross-sectional analyses, the association becomes considerably weaker in fixed effects specifications.



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Industrial and Labor Relations Review

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Social Work
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September 10, 2012