The Role of Education in Marital Decisions of Blacks and WhitesISER Internal Seminars

U.S. policies that promote marriage have prompted researchers to reexamine the reasons for the dramatic difference in marriage rates of blacks and whites. Black marriage rates are lower than white marriage rates. The difference varies from 20 and 30 percentage points. In this paper, I estimate the total effect of schooling on marriage probabilities of Black and White men and women. In particular, I estimate simulated gaps in Black-White marriage rates if schooling attainment of Black men and women were increased. I use data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 to simultaneously estimate schooling and marriage models. I find that increasing the schooling of Black men by one year increases the predicted probability of marriage by age 35 or higher by more than 8%. The estimated effect is negative for White men and women at younger ages, but there is no effect for Black women. Using these estimated schooling coefficients, I predict that elimination of Black-White differences in men’s schooling (which I simulate by assigning all Black men the mean schooling of their white counterparts) would decrease the gap in their marriage probabilities by 5 to 8 percentage points at ages higher than 35. If all Black men were to complete college (measured by 16 years of schooling) then the marriage gap would fall by 20 to 25 percentage points at ages higher than 35 years. I conclude that public policy designed to increase education can have small but nontrivial effects to increase black marriage rates.

Presented by:

Alita Nandi (ISER)

Date & time:

December 7, 2011 1:00 pm - July 12, 2011 1:00 pm

Internal seminars home


Latest findings, new research

Publications search

Search all research by subject and author


Researchers discuss their findings and what they mean for society


Background and context, methods and data, aims and outputs


Conferences, seminars and workshops

Survey methodology

Specialist research, practice and study

Taking the long view

ISER's annual report


Key research themes and areas of interest