Structural Opportunity and Individual Preference: The Determinants of Spouse Selection in Second Marriages

Christopher Thomas , City University of New York (CUNY)
Ruoding Tan, City University of New York (CUNY) and CUNY Institute for Demographic Research (CIDR)
Neil G. Bennett, CUNY Institute for Demographic Research (CIDR)

In the context of fundamental changes in union formation, union dissolution, and assortative mating in the U.S. in recent decades, we still do not fully understand the structural and individual factors driving spouse selection the second time around. Based on a nationally representative sample drawn from the 1979-2014 waves of the geocoded National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, we test three hypotheses: 1) Women’s spousal choice in first and in second marriages is associated with the composition of the local pool of unmarried men; 2) if the number of available single men as potential husbands is limited, a woman will be more likely to marry heterogamously; and 3) independent of the composition of remarriage markets, divorced women will change their preference toward homogamy in the second marital search. We find preliminary empirical evidence supporting these hypotheses, suggesting that changes in spouse selection in second marriages are due to both structural changes in remarriage markets and changing individual preferences.

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 Presented in Session 4. Marriage, Family, Households, & Unions