The Role of Expectations and Earnings in the Entry into Marriage and Cohabitation

Jessica H. Hardie, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Do women’s earnings predict their propensity to marry, and if so, to what extent does this vary depending on their expectations for married life? I estimate event history models of marriage for White, Black, and Hispanic women using the NLSY1979. I find that earnings are an important positive predictor of marriage for White and Black women, but not Hispanic women. Among White women, work-family gender ideology moderates the relationship between earnings and marriage, suggesting that earnings are a more reliable predictor of marriage among women who hold egalitarian attitudes within marriage. For Black women, economic considerations are consistent predictors of marriage regardless of work-family gender ideology. Finally, I investigate whether cohabitation may serve as an alternative to marriage for some women, estimating a multinomial logistic model of cohabitation with marriage as a competing risk. I find that for Black women, income is a positive predictor for entry into cohabitation.

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Presented in Session 24: Union Formation