Union Formation and Economic Opportunity in the United States

Catherine A. Fitch, University of Minnesota
J. Michael Oakes, University of Minnesota
Steven Ruggles, University of Minnesota

This paper presents preliminary results from a new project to assess the impact of changes in male and female economic opportunity on marriage formation in the United States since 1960. Our analysis capitalizes on a vast new archive of restricted-access long-form census data currently in preparation by the Census Bureau. This study breaks new ground by analyzing the local economic context of marriage decisions for African Americans, Hispanics and non-Hispanic whites. In this paper, we investigate the relationship between economic opportunity and early marriage formation and cohabitation in 2000. To address these issues, we used multilevel analyses of the effects of changes in local economic conditions on the marriage decisions of young people. The models also include controls for individual-level characteristics such as age and educational attainment and local characteristics such as partner availability, levels of cohabitation and welfare generosity.

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Presented in Session 37: Marriage and Union Formation