The Shifting Economic Determinants of Marriage Among Cohabiting Couples in the United States: 1984–2013

Patrick Ishizuka , Cornell University
Kelly Musick, Cornell University

Recent research implies distinct hypotheses about change or stability over time in the relationship between men’s and women’s economic resources and marriage. Scholars posit growing economic polarization, increasing symmetry in the importance of men’s and women’s economic characteristics, and the persistence of cultural norms of male breadwinning. However, no studies have used a consistent data source to examine long-term trends in the relationship between economic resources and marriage among cohabiting couples. We use nationally-representative longitudinal data from repeated panels of the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) to examine trends over the period 1984–2013 in the economic determinants of marriage among cohabiting couples in the United States, testing hypotheses about trends in the importance of men’s and women’s earnings, education, and employment in transitions to marriage. Preliminary results indicate that both men’s and women’s economic resources have become more important over time in predicting marriage.

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