The Effects of Marriage on Psychological Well-Being Focusing on Parental Status Prior to Marriage

Hyeyoung Woo, Wichita State University
Kelly Raley, University of Texas at Austin

It is well known that marriage provides psychological benefits for individuals. However, it is less known whether the beneficial effects of marriage on psychological well-being vary by parental status prior to marriage. Using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, 1979 cohort, we estimate the effects of marriage moderated by parental status on subsequent levels of psychological well-being among the sample of initially never married women. Our results indicate that entering a first marriage is associated with greater improvements in psychological well-being for single mothers compared to childless women. The results are somewhat inconsistent with previous studies about the psychological impacts of marriage for single mothers, partly because our analysis assesses the effects of “first” marriage for “never married women” at the baseline rather than the consequence of marriage among “single women.” Nonetheless, our results clearly suggest that single mothers benefit more from marriage than childless women do.

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Presented in Session 65: The Demography of Mental Health