NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

America's settling down: How Better Jobs and Falling Immigration led to a Rise in Marriage, 1880 – 1930

Tomas Cvrcek

NBER Working Paper No. 16161
Issued in July 2010
NBER Program(s):   DAE

The growing education and employment of women are usually cited as crucial forces behind the decline of marriage since 1960. However, both trends were already present between 1900 and 1960, during which time marriage became increasingly widespread. This early period differed from the post-1960 decades due to two factors primarily affecting men, one economic and one demographic. First, men’s improving labor market prospects made them more attractive as marriage partners to women. Second, immigration had a dynamic effect on partner search costs. Its short-run effect was to fragment the marriage market, making it harder to find a partner of one’s preferred ethnic and cultural background. The high search costs led to less marriage and later marriage in the 1890s and 1900s. As immigration declined, the long-run effect was for immigrants and their descendants to gradually integrate with American society. This reduced search costs and increased the marriage rate. The immigration primarily affected the whites’ marriage market which is why the changes in marital behavior are much more pronounced among this group than among blacks.

download in pdf format
   (363 K)

email paper

This paper is available as PDF (363 K) or via email.

Acknowledgments

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w16161

Published: Cvrcek, Tomas, 2012. "America's settling down: How better jobs and falling immigration led to a rise in marriage, 1880–1930," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 49(3), pages 335-351.

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded these:
Farber w16160 Rational Choice and Voter Turnout: Evidence from Union Representation Elections
Hamilton w16162 Calling Recessions in Real Time
Wang and Whalley w16142 The Trade Performance of Asian Economies During and Following the 2008 Financial Crisis
Corcoran and Evans w16097 Income Inequality, the Median Voter, and the Support for Public Education
Gourio and Miao w16157 Transitional Dynamics of Dividend and Capital Gains Tax Cuts
 
Publications
Activities
Meetings
Data
People
About

Support
National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email: info@nber.org

Contact Us