Journal of Family and Economic Issues

, Volume 38, Issue 3, pp 370–389

Racial Differences in Transitions to Marriage for Unmarried Mothers

  • Gerald Eric DanielsJr
  • Venoo Kakar
  • Anoshua Chaudhuri
Original Paper

Abstract

Unlike prior studies that have explained racial differences in the transitions to marriage among unmarried women, our study used the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study to examine racial differences in the transitions to marriage among unmarried women following a non-marital birth. We found that Black mothers were 60–65% more likely to delay marriage after a non-marital birth compared to White mothers and these racial gaps were only partially explained by economic, demographic and attitudinal factors. Our paper further contributes to this literature by examining changes in cohabitation patterns, educational attainment, poverty status and attitudes of gender distrust that are able to partially explain and reduce these racial gaps in transitions to marriage. With the general decline in marriage and rise in cohabitation, our paper tried to assess whether cohabitation is a leading factor for marriage or a substitute for marriage for unmarried mothers. Racial disparities have important implications for child wellbeing and intergenerational transmission of inequalities.

Keywords

Fragile Families Marriage Race Cohabitation Education Hazard models Attitudes towards marriage 

References

  1. Anderson, E. (2013). Streetwise: Race, class, and change in an urban community. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  2. (1981). A treatise on the family. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Becker, G. S. (1973). A theory of marriage: Part i. The Journal of Political Economy, 81(4), 813–846. doi:10.1086/260084.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bianchi, S. M. (1999). Feminization and juvenilization of poverty: Trends, relative risks, causes, and consequences. Annual Review of Sociology, 25, 307–333. doi:10.1146/annurev.soc.25.1.307.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Brien, M. J., Lillard, L. A., & Stern, S. (2006). Cohabitation, marriage, and divorce in a model of match quality. International Economic Review, 47(2), 451–494. doi:10.1111/j.1468-2354.2006.00385.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Brown, S. L. (2010). Marriage and child well-being: Research and policy perspectives. Journal of Marriage and Family, 72(5), 1059–1077. doi:10.1111/j.1741-3737.2010.00750.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Brown, S. L., Manning, W. D., & Stykes, J. B. (2015). Family structure and child well-being: Integrating family complexity. Journal of Marriage and Family, 77(1), 177–190. doi:10.1111/jomf.12145.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bulanda, J. R., & Brown, S. L. (2007). Race-ethnic differences in marital quality and divorce. Social Science Research, 36(3), 945–967. doi:10.1016/j.ssresearch.2006.04.001.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bulcroft, R. A., & Bulcroft, K. A. (1993). Race differences in attitudinal and motivational factors in the decision to marry. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 55(2), 338–355. doi:10.2307/352806.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Carlson, M., Garfinkel, I., McLanahan, S., Mincy, R., & Primus, W. (2004a). The effects of welfare and child support policies on union formation. Population Research and Policy Review, 23(5), 513–542. doi:10.1007/s11113-004-2707-8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Carlson, M., McLanahan, S., & England, P. (2004). Union formation in fragile families. Demography, 41(2), 237–261. doi:10.1353/dem.2004.0012.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Carlson, M. J., & Furstenberg, F. F. (2006). The prevalence and correlates of multipartnered fertility among urban us parents. Journal of Marriage and Family, 68(3), 718–732. doi:10.1111/j.1741-3737.2006.00285.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Cavanagh, S. E., & Huston, A. C. (2006). Family instability and children’s early problem behavior. Social Forces, 85(1), 551–581. doi:10.1353/sof.2006.0120.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Child Trends Databank (2015). Births to Unmarried Women: Indicators on Children and Youth. Technical report.Google Scholar
  15. Cohen, P. N. (2002). Cohabitation and the declining marriage premium for men. Work and Occupations, 29(3), 346–363. doi:10.1177/0730888402029003004.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Cox, D. R. (1972). Regression models and life-tables. Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, Series B, 34(2), 187–220. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/2985181.Google Scholar
  17. Cox, D. R. (1975). Partial likelihood. Biometrika, 62(2), 269–276. doi:10.1093/biomet/62.2.269.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Crissey, S. R. (2005). Race/ethnic differences in the marital expectations of adolescents: The role of romantic relationships. Journal of Marriage and Family, 67(3), 697–709. doi:10.1111/j.1741-3737.2005.00163.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Dunifon, R., & Kowaleski-Jones, L. (2002). Who’s in the house? race differences in cohabitation, single parenthood, and child development. Child Development, 73(4), 1249–1264. doi:10.1111/1467-8624.00470.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Edin, K. (2000). What do low-income single mothers say about marriage? Social Problems, 47(1), 112–133. doi:10.2307/3097154.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Edin, K., England, P., & Linnenberg, K. (2003). Love and distrust among unmarried parents. In Presentation at the National Poverty Center Conference, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  22. Edin, K., & Nelson, T. J. (2013). Doing the best I can. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  23. Fomby, P., & Cherlin, A. J. (2007). Family instability and child well-being. American Sociological Review, 72(2), 181–204. doi:10.1177/000312240707200203.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Fu, H., & Goldman, N. (1996). Incorporating health into models of marriage choice: Demographic and sociological perspectives. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 58(3), 740–758. doi:10.2307/353733.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Furstenberg, F. F, Jr., Brooks-Gunn, J., & Morgan, S. P. (1987). Adolescent mothers in later life. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Furtado, D., & Theodoropoulos, N. (2011). Interethnic marriage: A choice between ethnic and educational similarities. Journal of Population Economics, 24(4), 1257–1279. doi:10.1007/s00148-010-0319-7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Gibson-Davis, C. M., Edin, K., & McLanahan, S. (2005). High hopes but even higher expectations: The retreat from marriage among low-income couples. Journal of Marriage and Family, 67(5), 1301–1312. doi:10.1111/j.1741-3737.2005.00218.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Goldstein, J. R., & Kenney, C. T. (2001). Marriage delayed or marriage forgone? New cohort forecasts of first marriage for US women. American Sociological Review, 66(4), 506–519. doi:10.2307/3088920.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Graefe, D. R., & Lichter, D. T. (2002). Marriage among unwed mothers: Whites, blacks and hispanics compared. Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 34(6), 286–293. doi:10.1363/3428602.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Harknett, K., & Kuperberg, A. (2011). Education, labor markets and the retreat from marriage. Social Forces, 90(1), 41–63. doi:10.1093/sf/90.1.41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Harknett, K., & McLanahan, S. S. (2004). Racial and ethnic differences in marriage after the birth of a child. American Sociological Review, 69(6), 790–811. doi:10.1177/000312240406900603.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Kaplan, E. L., & Meier, P. (1958). Nonparametric estimation from incomplete observations. Journal of the American Statistical Association, 53(282), 457–481. doi:10.2307/2281868.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Lefgren, L., & McIntyre, F. (2006). The relationship between women’s education and marriage outcomes. Journal of Labor Economics, 24(4), 787–830. doi:10.1086/506486.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Lichter, D. T., & Graefe, D. R. (2007). Men and marriage promotion: Who marries unwed mothers? Social Service Review, 81(3), 397–421. doi:10.1086/521083.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Lichter, D. T., LeClere, F. B., & McLaughlin, D. K. (1991). Local marriage markets and the marital behavior of black and white women. American Journal of Sociology, 96(4), 843–867. doi:10.1086/229610.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Lichter, D. T., Qian, Z., & Mellott, L. M. (2006). Marriage or dissolution? Union transitions among poor cohabiting women. Demography, 43(2), 223–240. doi:10.1353/dem.2006.0016.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Lillard, L. A., & Panis, C. W. (1996). Marital status and mortality: The role of health. Demography, 33(3), 313–327. doi:10.2307/2061764.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Lundberg, S., & Pollak, R. A. (2007). The american family and family economics. The Journal of Economic Perspectives, 21(2), 3–26. doi:10.3386/w12908.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Lundberg, S., Pollak, R. A., & Stearns, J. (2016). Family inequality: Diverging patterns in marriage, cohabitation, and childbearing. The Journal of Economic Perspectives, 30(2), 79–101. doi:10.1257/jep.30.2.79.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Lundberg, S., & Rose, E. (2003). Child gender and the transition to marriage. Demography, 40(2), 333–349. doi:10.1353/dem.2003.0015.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Manning, W. D., & Smock, P. J. (1995). Why marry? Race and the transition to marriage among cohabitors. Demography, 32(4), 509–520. doi:10.2307/2061671.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Manning, W. D., Smock, P. J., Dorius, C., Cooksey, E., Hernandez, D., & Mitchell, K. S. (2012). Cohabitation and marital expectations in young adulthood. In IUSSP Meeting of the International Seminar on First Union Patterns Around the World, Madrid, Spain. Working Paper.Google Scholar
  43. Matouschek, N., & Rasul, I. (2008). The economics of the marriage contract: Theories and evidence. Journal of Law and Economics, 51(1), 59–110. doi:10.1086/588596.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. McKeever, M., & Wolfinger, N. H. (2011). Thanks for nothing: Changes in income and labor force participation for never-married mothers since 1982. Social Science Research, 40(1), 63–76. doi:10.1016/j.ssresearch.2010.06.008.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. McLanahan, S. (1985). Family structure and the reproduction of poverty. American Journal of Sociology, 90(4), 873–901. doi:10.1086/228148.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. McLanahan, S. & Casper, L. (1995). Growing diversity and inequality in the american family. State of the Union: America in the 1990s, 2, 1–46. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7758/9781610441971.Google Scholar
  47. McLanahan, S., & Sandefur, G. (1996). Growing up with a single parent. What hurts, what helps. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  48. Mincy, R. B. (2002). Who should marry whom? multiple partner fertility among new parents. Center for Research on Child Wellbeing, (964). Working Paper WP02-03-FF.Google Scholar
  49. Osborne, C. (2004). Maternal stress and mothering behaviors in stable and unstable families. Center for Research on Child Wellbeing, (951). Working Paper WP03-08-FF.Google Scholar
  50. Osborne, C. (2005). Marriage following the birth of a child among cohabiting and visiting parents. Journal of Marriage and Family, 67(1), 14–26. doi:10.1111/j.0022-2445.2005.00002.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Osborne, C., & McLanahan, S. (2007). Partnership instability and child well-being. Journal of Marriage and Family, 69(4), 1065–1083. doi:10.1111/j.1741-3737.2007.00431.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Paat, Y.-F., & Hope, T. L. (2015). The effects of marital culture and social structure on marital aspirations and attitudes in “Fragile Families”. Journal of Family Social Work, 18(3), 143–163. doi:10.1080/10522158.2015.1023388.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Park, S. S., & Rosén, L. A. (2013). The marital scales: Measurement of intent, attitudes, and aspects regarding marital relationships. Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, 54(4), 295–312. doi:10.1080/10502556.2013.780491.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. (1998). Rituals of blood: Consequences of slavery in two American centuries. New York: Basic Civitas Books.Google Scholar
  55. Raley, R. K., Sweeney, M. M., & Wondra, D. (2015). The growing racial and ethnic divide in us marriage patterns. The Future of children/Center for the Future of Children, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, 25(2), 89. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/43581974.Google Scholar
  56. Reichman, N. E., Corman, H., & Noonan, K. (2004). Effects of child health on parents’ relationship status. Demography, 41(3), 569–584. doi:10.1353/dem.2004.0026.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Reichman, N. E., Teitler, J. O., Garfinkel, I., & McLanahan, S. S. (2001). Fragile families: Sample and design. Children and Youth Services Review, 23(4–5), 303–326. doi:10.1016/S0190-7409(01)00141-4.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Rosenfeld, M. J. (2008). Racial, educational and religious endogamy in the united states: A comparative historical perspective. Social Forces, 87(1), 1–31. doi:10.1353/sof.0.0077.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Solomon-Fears, C. (2011). Non-marital childbearing: Trends, reasons, and public policy interventions. Collingdale: Diane Publishing.Google Scholar
  60. Spain, D. & Bianchi, S. (1996). Balancing act: Motherhood, marriage, and employment among American women. Russell Sage Foundation. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7758/9781610445115.Google Scholar
  61. Stevenson, B., & Wolfers, J. (2007). Marriage and divorce: Changes and their driving forces. The Journal of Economic Perspectives, 21(2), 27–52. doi:10.3386/w12944.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Teitler, J., Reichman, N., et al. (2007). Mental illness as a barrier to marriage among mothers with out-of-wedlock births. Center for Research on Child Wellbeing, (907). Working Paper WP07-01-FF.Google Scholar
  63. Testa, M., Astone, N. M., Krogh, M., & Neckerman, K. M. (1989). Employment and marriage among inner-city fathers. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 501, 79–91. Retrieved from URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1045650.Google Scholar
  64. Usdansky, M. & McLanahan, S. (2003). Looking for murphy brown: Are college-educated, single mothers unique? Center for Research on Child Wellbeing, (957). Working Papers WP03-05-FF.Google Scholar
  65. Waller, M. R., & McLanahan, S. S. (2005). “His” and “her” marriage expectations: Determinants and consequences. Journal of Marriage and Family, 67(1), 53–67. doi:10.1111/j.0022-2445.2005.00005.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Weden, M., & Kimbro, R. T. (2007). Racial and ethnic differences in the timing of first marriage and smoking cessation. Journal of Marriage and Family, 69(3), 878–887. doi:10.1111/j.1741-3737.2007.00411.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Wilcox, W. B., & Wolfinger, N. H. (2007). Then comes marriage? Religion, race, and marriage in urban America. Social Science Research, 36(2), 569–589. doi:10.1016/j.ssresearch.2006.02.005.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Wilcox, W. B., & Wolfinger, N. H. (2008). Living and loving “decent”: Religion and relationship quality among urban parents. Social Science Research, 37(3), 828–843. doi:10.1016/j.ssresearch.2007.11.001.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Wilson, W. J. (2011). When work disappears: The world of the new urban poor. New York: Vintage Books.Google Scholar
  70. Wilson, W. J. (2012). The truly disadvantaged: The inner city, the underclass, and public policy. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Zavodny, M. (1999). Do men’s characteristics affect whether a nonmarital pregnancy results in marriage? Journal of Marriage and the Family, 61(3), 764–773. doi:10.2307/353576.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EconomicsHoward UniversityWashingtonUSA
  2. 2.Department of EconomicsSan Francisco State UniversitySan FranciscoUSA

Personalised recommendations