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Marriage Trends in America: Estimates, Implications, and Underlying Causes

Thomas J. Espenshade
Population and Development Review
Vol. 11, No. 2 (Jun., 1985), pp. 193-245
Published by: Population Council
DOI: 10.2307/1973487
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1973487
Page Count: 53
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Marriage Trends in America: Estimates, Implications, and Underlying Causes
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Abstract

This paper examines trends in marriage, divorce, and remarriage behavior in the United States since World War II and the associated differentials in these behaviors, for whites and blacks. The evidence points to the fading centrality of marriage in the lives of men and women since about 1960. Implications of these trends are discussed for illegitimacy, living arrangements of children, and family economic welfare. The paper also reviews four social science theories proposing reasons for the observed changes in marriage. These theories relate to the gains to marriage, the relative income of young adults, sex ratio imbalances in the marriage market, and secular pressures of modernization.

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