In their 2007 study, Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers used data from the 2001 Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) to examine marriage and divorce patterns up to age 45 for cohorts born in 1940–19–1955.
A comparison of the two cohorts shows that the likelihood of marriage declined, the average age at first marriage increased by 1 year, and married couples were more likely to divorce in the latter cohort.
The trends of declining marriage rates and increasing divorce rates, shown by Stevenson and Wolfers, continue with the 1957–1964 NLSY79 cohort.
The longitudinal survey shows the same patterns regarding differences between racial/ethnic groups and education groups as did the SIPP—though the NLSY79 differences between college graduates and the other education groups are even starker.
Stevenson and Wolfers found stark differences in marriage patterns between racial groups and between education groups for the 1950–1955 birth cohort: Blacks married later and at lower rates compared with Whites.
College graduates and those with less education married at approximately the same rates, but college graduates married later (at age 24.9 versus age 22.8).
About equal proportions of men and women who received a college degree married by age 46, 88 percent for men and 90 percent for women.
In addition, though the rate of divorce rose to 44.8 percent in the NLSY79 cohort compared with 40.8 percent in the 1950–1955 cohort, the rate of divorce among college graduates fell from 34.8 percent to 29.7 percent.The current study differs from Stevenson and Wolfers’ 2007 study in that the current study examines a younger birth cohort of Americans.This paper considers differences by gender and by racial/ethnic group but focuses on differences across education groups and by age of marriage.Men who earned a bachelor’s degree were more likely to marry than men with less education.The chance of a marriage ending in divorce was lower for people with more education, with over half of marriages of those who did not complete high school having ended in divorce compared with approximately 30 percent of marriages of college graduates.