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Cohabiting Partners' Economic Circumstances and Marriage

Publication Abstract

Smock, Pamela, and Wendy Manning. 1997. "Cohabiting Partners' Economic Circumstances and Marriage." Demography, 34(3): 331-341.

Past studies of the transition to marriage generally have relied on information about only one individual or have attempted to measure characteristics of potential spouses indirectly. Drawing on data form the two waves of the National Survey of Families and Households (NSFH), we examine the effects of economic circumstances of both partners in cohabiting unions on the transition to marriage. Focusing on both partners in a relationship affords a more direct test of the relative importance of men's versus women's economic circumstances. Our findings suggest that only the male partner's economic resources affect the transition to marriage, with positive economic situations accelerating marriage and deterring separations. Our results imply that despite trends toward egalitarian gender-role attitudes and increasing income provision among women, cohabiting men's economic circumstances carry far more weight than women's in marriage formation.

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