Casting a Wider Net? Marriage Timing and Partner Choice

Kevin Shafer, Ohio State University
Zhenchao Qian, Ohio State University

In recent decades, marriage markets in the U.S. have been undergoing rapid changes: age at marriage has increased steadily and newly married couples are much more likely today to have the same levels of educational attainment compared to the past. While growing parity in educational attainment between men and women makes educational homogamy demographically possible, changes in marriage timing may play an important role. In this paper, we examine how variation in marriage timing contributes to rising educational homogamy. Using NLSY79 and NLSY97 panel data, we argue that increasing diversity in age at marriage has created fragmented marriage markets – one for the less educated and one for their more educated counterparts who marry at later ages. We pay special attention to the context in which men and women do not marry or form “mismatched” marriages in terms of age and educational attainment.

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Presented in Session 23: Union Formation