Long-Term and Short-Term Economic Resources and Marriage Formation: An Insight into Black-White Differences in Marriage Formation among Cohabitors

Janet Kuo, University of Texas at Austin

Using male data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997 (NLSY 97), we consider wealth accumulation (i.e., net worth) as one of important components of long-term economic prospects that may facilitate the formation of marriage among cohabitors, net of other relatively short-term economic prospects (i.e., earnings and employment status). Additionally, given the black-white disparity in access to wealth, our thesis is that taking into account wealth accumulation will help us further explain black-white differences in marriage formation among cohabitors.Our preliminary results suggest that long-term economic resources—wealth—is particularly central in marriage formation for cohabitors, whereas short-term economic resources--earnings and employment status are key to remaining cohabiting, relative to dissolution. Education, as a proxy for long-term economic prospect too, is significantly associated with increased risk of marriage and decreased risk of separation. Overall, the inclusion of measures for both short-term and long-term economic prospects helps explain the black-white difference in marriage formation substantially.

  See extended abstract

Presented in Poster Session 1: Marriage, Unions, Families and Households