Absolute Versus Relative Earnings and Cohabiting Couples’ Transition to Marriage

Jennifer Holland, University of Wisconsin at Madison

Recent social and economic changes in the United States have led some family scholars to theorize that men and women’s preferences in mates should converge— men, as well as women, will seek partners who bear traits associated with success in market work. Recent research among low-income couples lends support to this converging preference theory. This study uses data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 to more extensively evaluate the evidence for converging spousal preferences among women and men. I assess if the relationship between couple earnings and the transition to marriage varies by the relative earnings of each partner. I allow for variation in the effect of relative earnings across socioeconomic status, measured by absolute earnings and educational attainment.

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Presented in Poster Session 7