Original Paper

Journal of Family and Economic Issues

, Volume 29, Issue 1, pp 166-184

First online:

Path to Poverty Alleviation: Marriage or Postsecondary Education?

  • Shanta PandeyAffiliated withGeorge Warren Brown School of Social Work, Washington University Email author 
  • , Jeoung-hee KimAffiliated withRutgers School of Social Work, The State University of New Jersey

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We examined the role of human capital in determining economic well-being and marital status of mothers with children. We analyzed 1996 data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP), a nationally representative survey of 36,700 American households conducted by the Census Bureau. The results indicate that among the human capital variables postsecondary education significantly improves the economic well-being of mothers irrespective of their marital status. Also, educated mothers are more likely to be married. These findings are especially relevant as we debate the importance of marriage in poverty alleviation.


Economic well-being Marital status Postsecondary education Welfare reform