Trends in African-American Marriage Patterns. Steven Ruggles and Catherine Fitch Minnesota Population Center. Funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health. We have three big questions:. Why was there no marriage boom among blacks?
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Steven Ruggles and Catherine Fitch
Minnesota Population Center
Funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health
Harmonized census microdata spanning the period from 1850 to 2000 with user-friendly access, integrated comprehensive hypertext documentation makes analysis of long run change easy
–we have that one covered.
–I will briefly summarize our pending proposal
–some preliminary results
1. Why was there no black marriage boom?
Marriage age distribution: No marriage boom for black men
Virtually no marriage boom for black women
To investigate differentials, we must shift our measures from median marriage age and marriage age distribution to percent of young people never married.
Here is how the indirect median is calculated:
The indirect median has been the principal measure of marriage age in the U.S. for a century, but it is now unreliable.With the rapid change in marriage patterns we cannot predict how many people will eventually marry, so estimates are increasingly biased upwards.Also, indirect median is no good for studying differentials in characteristics that change over the life course, like socioeconomic status.So, forget about marriage age: we will focus on percent of young people never-married.
Trend in percent never married is closely similar to trend in marriage age, but there is a slight bump in marriage age for black men from 1950 to 1970
Among white men, there was a marriage boom in every occupational group.
Among black men, there was a marriage boom in every occupational group except for farming.
2. What caused the extraordinary rise of
black marriage age after 1970?
Past studies that attempted to assess relationship between economic opportunities for men and women at the local level on marriage formation ran into data limitations, especially for blacks
User friendly access, harmonized codes, and integrated comprehensive hypertext documentation led to flood of census-based research:
Source: Preparing for an Aging World: The Case for Cross-National Research (National Academy, 2001)
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