Women’s economic dependency and the transition to marriage

Jennifer A. Holland, University of Southampton
Agnese Vitali, University of Southampton

With the decline of the male breadwinner model of the family and the increasing importance of the role of women as income providers, partners’ economic dependency has profoundly changed, and with it the norms regulating union formation. Focusing on cohabiting couples in the United States, this paper studies the association between partner’s relative earnings and the transition to first marriage. The paper further investigates if and to what extend the association between relative earnings and union type has changed across two generations. The analyses are based on the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, 1979 (NLYS79) and 1997 cohorts (NSLY97), and make use of multinomial logistic regression for analyzing the probability of observing a given union type (continuing cohabitation, marriage, union dissolution) in a given year, on the basis of the partners’ relative earnings. Preliminary results based on the older cohort suggest that female-breadwinner couples (i.e. couples where men are 100% economically dependent) are more likely to make the transition to first marriage with respect to male-breadwinner couples.

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Presented in Session 102: Marriage and repartnering