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.
About 85 percent of the NLSY79 cohort married by age 46, and among those who married, a sizeable fraction, almost 30 percent, married more than once.
The bulk of marriages occurred by age 28, with relatively few marriages taking place at age 35 or older.
Because the NLSY79 contains a longitudinal marital history for each respondent, the survey permits the study of marriage and divorce over the life cycle.
For a specific cohort, the NLSY79 can provide statistics on the percentage of marriages that end in divorce. Because the NLSY79 collects data on many aspects of respondents’ lives—including employment, fertility, and income—many researchers have used the NLSY79 to look at marriage in conjunction with a variety of outcomes.
In addition, marriages of women were more likely to end in divorce, as were marriages that began at younger ages.
On average, women married at younger ages than men.
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.
Respondents were interviewed annually until 1994, and since then they have continued to be interviewed on a biennial basis.
The NLSY79 collects detailed information on fertility, marital transitions, and employment in a format that allows one to determine the dating of the specific events.
In particular, the study focuses on differences in marriage and divorce patterns by educational attainment and by age at marriage.