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Poverty and the Marital Behavior of Young Women

Diane K. McLaughlin and Daniel T. Lichter
Journal of Marriage and Family
Vol. 59, No. 3 (Aug., 1997), pp. 582-594
DOI: 10.2307/353947
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/353947
Page Count: 13
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Poverty and the Marital Behavior of Young Women
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Abstract

Marriage provides one route out of poverty and long-term reliance on welfare, yet little is known about the factors that encourage or impede marriage among poor, young women. We use data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth to examine first marriage transitions for poor young women and young women who are not poor. We find that the latter are more likely to marry than poor women, but poor women who have jobs are more likely to marry than those who do not have jobs. Poor Black women have the same probability of marriage as poor White women, after controlling for differences in economic independence, mate availability, and family culture and living arrangements. The receipt of welfare was not associated with marriage propensity for either poor women or women who are not poor. Lower mate availability and higher average welfare payments in a local area depressed the probability of marriage among poor women but had no influence on the probability of marriage among women who are not poor.

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