The Changing Marriage Gradient -- Trends in Currently Married Men and Women: 1940-2000

Berna S. Miller, Brown University

Using IPUMS data for 1940 through 2000, this paper examines the changing marriage patterns of men and women. Small changes in the distribution of men and women aged 18 to 39 by marital status over the past sixty years have been accompanied by larger changes in education and income. This analysis examines the changing effects of education and income on the marital status of men and women. In addition to providing a descriptive portrait of young adults by marital status, this analysis examines the evidence for the marriage gradient and independence hypotheses of marriage. Preliminary results indicate that the relationship between education and marital status has become more similar over time for men and women. The most educated men and women are now most likely to be married, while the opposite was true for women in the earlier part of the analysis period. Income remains a important determinant of marital status for men but not for women.

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Presented in Session 167: The Family in Historical Perspective