Journal of Population Economics

, Volume 21, Issue 2, pp 463–484 | Cite as

Age at marriage and marital instability: revisiting the Becker–Landes–Michael hypothesis

  • Evelyn L. LehrerEmail author
Original Paper


An early age at first marriage is known to be associated with a high risk of divorce. Yet, it has been suggested that beyond a certain point, the relationship between age at marriage and marital instability may become positive because as unmarried women begin to hear their biological clock tick, they may settle for matches far from the optimal. Analyses based on cycles 5 and 6 of the National Surveys of Family Growth show that the relationship between age at marriage and marital instability is strongly negative up to the late 20s, with a flattening of the curve thereafter.


Divorce Marital dissolution Age at marriage 

JEL Classification

J12 J11 J10 



I received many helpful comments on earlier drafts of this paper from Deborah Cobb-Clark, three anonymous referees, and participants in the session on Union Dissolution at the annual meetings of the Population Association of America, March 30–April 1, 2006, Los Angeles. Zhenxiang Zhao provided skillful research assistance.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Economics Department (m/c 144)University of Illinois at ChicagoChicagoUSA

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