Sex Differences in the Entry Into Marriage

by Frances K. Goldscheider, Linda Waite

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Among the many transitions young people make as they enter adulthood, marriage is perhaps the most important. This Note uses data from the National Longitudinal Surveys of Young Women and Young Men to examine the transition to marriage and how it differs by sex, testing the extent of variation in the desirability of marriage for men and women, and the effects of marriage market factors and marital and nonmarital roles. The design of the analysis allows the effects of these factors to vary over the young adult years. The pattern of findings suggests that recent declines in the marriage rate have not resulted from increased barriers to marriage but from declines in relative preferences for marriage.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Note series. The note was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1979 to 1993 that reported other outputs of sponsored research for general distribution.

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