Article

Do student loans delay marriage? Debt repayment and family formation in young adulthood

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Abstract

Background: With increasing levels of student loan debt, the path to economic stability may be less smooth than it was for earlier generations of college graduates. This paper explores this emerging trend by assessing whether or not student loan debt influences family formation. Objective: The objective of this study is to examine whether student loan debt delays marriage in young adulthood, whether or not the relationship between student loan debt and marriage differs for women and for men, and if this relationship attenuates during the years immediately after college graduation. Methods: We estimate a series of discrete-time hazard regression models predicting the odds of first marriage as a function of time-varying student loan debt balance, using a nationally representative sample of bachelor's degree recipients from the 1993 Baccalaureate and Beyond Longitudinal Study (N = 9,410). Results: We find that the dynamics of loan repayment are related to marriage timing for women, but not for men. Specifically, an increase of $1,000 in student loan debt is associated with a reduction in the odds of first marriage by 2 percent a month among female bachelor degree recipients during the first four years after college graduation. This relationship attenuates over time. Conclusion: Our study lends support to the proposition that the financial weight of monthly loan repayments impedes family formation in the years immediately following college graduation - however, only for women. This finding questions traditional models of gender specialization in family formation that emphasize the economic resources of men.

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... For many youth, the late teens to the mid-20s are a time of growing demand for spending -on education, on developing the resources for first jobs (such as transportation and clothing for work), and on setting up independent households -but slow growth in income. Debt may therefore be more important in enabling and constraining key transitions like fertility in the early years than later when financial lives may have become more secure (Bozick & Estacion, 2014). Conceptually, debt is most likely to exert shorter-term effects on the timing of large life decisions like fertility, similar to other factors that affect fertility, like postsecondary education (Brand & Davis, 2011). ...
... Indeed even factors like class and race that have large effects on fertility have little effect on total fertility in recent years, which has converged across social groups, but rather influence timing and patterning (Sweeney and Raley, 2014). Similarly, in their analysis of debt and marriage, Bozick and Estacion (2014) find that debt has effects mainly in delaying marriage rather than encouraging youth to forego marriage altogether. ...
... Chiteji's analysis is also of an earlier cohort that was less exposed to debt than later cohorts coming of age after 2000. Young adult debt portfolios have shifted over time, becoming more dominated by student loans, which can have different effects on early life transitions than other unsecured debts such as credit card debt and than secured debt like mortgages (Addo, 2014;Bozick & Estacion, 2014;Houle, 2014). The transition to adulthood has long involved a transition to debt, but contemporary cohorts differ from past cohorts in having more complex debt-holdings. ...
Article
This article explores the role of personal debt in the transition to parenthood. We analyze data from the National Longitudinal Study of Youth-1997 cohort and find that for the generation coming of age in the 2000s, student loans delay fertility for women, particularly at very high levels of debt. Home mortgages and credit card debt, in contrast, appear to be precursors to parenthood. These results indicate that different forms of debt have different implications for early adulthood transitions: whereas consumer loans or home mortgages immediately increase access to consumption goods, there is often a significant delay between the accrual and realization of benefits for student loans. The double-edged nature of debt as both barrier and facilitator to life transitions highlights the importance of looking at debt both as a monetary issue and also as a carrier of social meanings.
... Student loans have been linked to lower and delayed rates of family formation among the 61 percent of U.S. adults over 25 who have attended at least some college, and the 35 percent who have graduated (Bozick and Estacion 2014;Gicheva 2016;Min and Taylor 2018;Nau, Dwyer, and Hodson 2015;U.S. Census Bureau 2018). Explanations for this pattern among those with loans have not been fully explored, and may result from several factors. ...
... Past research has established a link between student loans and delayed family formation (Bozick and Estacion 2014;Gicheva 2016;Nau, Dwyer, and Hodson 2015) despite no evidence in our survey that those with student loans have an increased career focus or decreased interest in forming a family; we add to this research by exploring the underlying social norms that contribute to this delay. We find that a significant minority of respondents believed marriage and childbearing should be delayed due to loans, and reported anticipating that they will delay family or romantic relationship formation because they have loans. ...
Preprint
Student loans are increasingly common among young adults, but implications for family formation patterns and childbearing circumstances have not been fully explored. We analyze the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997 Cohort dataset to examine the relationships of student loans and college attendance and completion to family formation patterns, specifically marriage, parenthood, age at marriage, and age and marital status at first birth. Data examined were collected between 1997 and 2015, and we examine respondents ranging in age from 17-35 during those years, allowing for the consideration of effects across the life course. We find women who had children at early ages were more likely to take out loans to attend college, but at older ages loans were associated with lower parenthood rates among women. Women with loans had marginally lower marriage rates at older ages, were significantly younger on average when they did have children, and were significantly less likely to be married at first birth, even after accounting for differences in age at first birth and selection effects. Loans were not associated with differences in these trends among men, but education was related to distinct family formation trajectories for both men and women.
... The literature on the relationship between student debt and marriage choices is sparse. Addo (2014), Bozick and Estacion (2014) and Gicheva (2014) document that the amount of accumulated student debt is negatively related to the probability of first marriage using nationally representative samples of National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997 (NLSY97) participants, bachelor's degree recipients, and MBA students respectively. I complement this literature by documenting differences in marriage quality in addition to differences in marriage rates. ...
... These gaps are statistically significant. 14 This fact is consistent with Addo (2014), Bozick and Estacion (2014) and Gicheva (2014), all of whom document that accumulated student debt is negatively related to the probability of first marriage using national representative samples of NLSY97 participants, bachelor's degree recipients, and MBA students respectively. I also compare the spousal earnings conditional on getting married. ...
Article
This dissertation consists of two essays. The common theme is Public Economics: to understand the effects of government policies in order to improve their design and to understand how special interest groups affect the local fiscal policies. In the first chapter, I study the impact of student debt on the education, career, and marriage choices of female lawyers. Law students quite often take on substantial amounts of debt to finance their graduate education. There has been much concern in the legal profession and among policy-makers that this debt burden distorts career choices. The empirical analysis is based on a novel, nationally representative, longitudinal data set. In contrast to the previous literature that has largely focused on males and finds only small effects, these new data suggest that debt has large and significant negative effects on female career and marriage outcomes. To explore the likely causes of these negative debt effects, I develop and estimate a dynamic model of education, labor, and marriage markets. My findings suggest that a large part of the debt effect on schooling and career choices comes from the diminished marriage prospects associated with the debt burden. I then focus on policies that aim to reduce the debt burden while also encouraging female lawyers to pursue careers in the public sector. My policy experiments show that subsidizing student debt repayment earlier in the career is more effective than doing so later. In the second chapter, I study the impact of unions on municipal elections and urban fiscal policies. The efficient decentralized provision of public goods requires that special interest groups, such as municipal unions, do not exercise undue influence on the outcome of municipal elections and local fiscal policies. I have assembled a unique data set that is based on union endorsements that are published in leading local newspapers. My empirical analysis focuses on municipal elections in the 150 largest cities in the U.S. between 1990 and 2012. I find that challengers strongly benefit from endorsements in competitive elections. Challengers that receive union endorsements and successfully defeat an incumbent also tend to adopt more union friendly fiscal policies.
... Debt affects individuals in all income groups and has implications that go beyond financial decision-making (Walsemann and Ailshire, 2017). Debt can impact a person's mental and physical health, work productivity, family relationships, social network, and life satisfaction (Addo, 2014;Bozick and Estacion, 2014;Houle and Berger, 2015;Nau, Dwyer and Hodson, 2015;Rothstein and Rouse, 2011). As a result, personal debt is being studied in a range of disciplines. ...
... Student loan burdens on individuals and families have been increasing steadily and today student loans are the largest source of household debt in the United States, outside of mortgages (Federal Reserve Bank of New York, 2017). A small but growing area of inquiry has shown that student loan burdens can delay marriage (Addo, 2014;Bozick and Estacion, 2014), childbirth (Nau et al., 2015), home purchase (Houle and Berger, 2015), and make careers in lower-paid public interest jobs unattainable (Rothstein and Rouse, 2011), in addition to causing personal financial distress (Dunn and Mirzaie, 2016), burdened marriages and financially overburdened families well into retirement (Walsemann and Ailshire, 2017). There are several areas for future research. ...
... Student loans have been linked to lower and delayed rates of family formation among the 61 percent of U.S. adults over 25 who have attended at least some college, and the 35 percent who have graduated (Bozick and Estacion 2014;Gicheva 2016;Min and Taylor 2018;Nau, Dwyer, and Hodson 2015;U.S. Census Bureau 2018). Explanations for this pattern among those with loans have not been fully explored, and may result from several factors. ...
... Past research has established a link between student loans and delayed family formation (Bozick and Estacion 2014;Gicheva 2016;Nau, Dwyer, and Hodson 2015) despite no evidence in our survey that those with student loans have an increased career focus or decreased interest in forming a family; we add to this research by exploring the underlying social norms that contribute to this delay. We find that a significant minority of respondents believed marriage and childbearing should be delayed due to loans, and reported anticipating that they will delay family or romantic relationship formation because they have loans. ...
Article
Social norms and expectations regarding marriage or childbearing while in debt—or with an indebted partner—may explain links between student loans and lower family formation rates. This study analyzes an original survey of college students (N = 2,990) at two universities examining how student loans will, would, or should affect romantic relationship and family formation decisions. A significant minority believed marriage should be delayed and nearly half believed childbearing should be delayed when people have student loan debt. Many reported they would hesitate to marry someone with high student debt, their loans would delay family formation, and they would form families earlier if their debt were forgiven. Those with loan debt and higher debt were more willing to partner with those who had high student debt. Women were less likely to believe people should delay childbearing and marriage because of loans, but more hesitant to marry a partner with high student debt. Findings suggest social norms underlie childbearing and marriage delays among those with loans, and student loan debt creates a class divide among the highly educated.
... The findings of this literature have been somewhat mixed, with some studies showing associations across the board (Addo, Houle, and Sassler 2019;Gicheva 2016), whereas others find that they are limited to women (Nau, Dwyer, and Hodson 2015), vary by race (Min and Taylor 2018), or attenuate over time (Bozick and Estacion 2014). They have also focused on measurable outcomes (e.g., age at marriage or having a first child), rather than the subjective experience that might lead to such decisions or the impacts on family relationships. ...
... Although holding student loan debt was once positively associated with marriage, at least for men (Addo et al. 2019), a growing number of studies find evidence that student loan debt now delays marriage (Addo 2014;Gicheva 2016;Velez et al. 2019), particularly for women (Bozick and Estacion 2014;Sieg and Wang 2018), though it may increase the likelihood of cohabitation (Addo 2014). Similarly, evidence is emerging that student loan debt delays childbearing for women (Velez et al. 2019), especially at high debt levels (Nau et al. 2015) but that this relationship varies with race (Min and Taylor 2018). ...
Article
Full-text available
When does student loan borrowing prompt relational work between borrowers and family members? Research on student loans has focused on quantitative estimation of the effects of borrowing on educational attainment, economic well-being, health, and life-course milestones. Drawing on 60 interviews with lawyers in the northeastern United States, the authors argue that student loans also have underappreciated relational effects, even for relatively privileged borrowers. Relational work around student loans is particularly visible during the decision to borrow, when establishing partnerships, and in transitioning to parenthood. It becomes prominent when there is a mismatch between family members’ economic expectations of one another and when shared expectations are difficult to fulfill. Scholars have implicitly assumed that difficulty repaying explains the impact of borrowing on family formation. Attention to relational work, however, shows how debt can create stressors even for borrowers capable of repayment and may help explain cross-group variation in how debt affects family decisions.
... The research literature is divided between studies that found a negative relationship between student loan debt and marriage (Addo, 2014;Bozick & Estacion, 2014;Gicheva, 2011Gicheva, , 2016Sieg & Wang, 2017) and those that found no relationship (Choy, Li, & Carroll, 2006;Gervais & Ziebarth, 2016;Marks, 2009;Lei Zhang, 2013). Only one study found a positive relationship in the medium-term when analysing eligibility for higher levels of student loans and marriage (Goodman et al., 2018). ...
... Some research suggests that student loan debt delays, not prevents, particular life events such as family formation (Bozick & Estacion, 2014;Houle & Warner, 2017;Nau et al., 2015;Weidner, 2016a). However, rarely does the extant literature analyse the possibility of a delay. ...
Article
Full-text available
Around the world, student loan debt is rising. Growing numbers of students rely on student loans to pay for their higher education and their levels of borrowing are increasing compared with previous decades. In countries like England it is anticipated that the majority of graduates will be repaying their loans for most of their working lives. For many, having student loan debt is no longer a short-term status and it is becoming the new normal. There is now value in exploring how student loan debt influences individuals’ choices, behaviour and life events once they have left higher education. Yet, the academic literature on the impact of student loan debt on decisions made after leaving higher education and later in life is scarce. The few studies available, mostly based in the US, tend to show that individuals with student loan debt make different career choices, delay buying a home, have worse mental health, and are less well-off financially throughout their lifetime as well as being less prepared for retirement. Student loan debt amongst women is also negatively related to family formation. The possible critical impact of student loan debt on the future of our societies and economies calls for further research to fill the gaps in this limited extant literature. This includes moving beyond its US-focus, its dependence on secondary datasets, and its narrow focus within a small number of disciplines. Future research should aim to improve and expand methodological research designs, in particular by using qualitative methods, analysing longitudinal datasets, improving sampling, and trying to show causality. Questions asked in these studies should encompass such issues as the evaluation of possible delays in decision-making, the difference between completers and non-completers, the importance of attitude to debt, and the impact of different student loan repayment plans.
... In essence, borrowers must be more risk aversive and make career choices which keep their "indentured servitude" in mind. A number of studies have demonstrated that student loan debt impacts and delays marriage, family formation, and parenthood (Addo, 2014;Bozick & Estacion, 2014;Nau et al., 2015). Specifically, it has been shown that student debt is related to difficulty paying for basic needs (Despard et al., 2016); impacts family formation decisions, particularly for women (Addo, 2014;Bozick & Estacion, 2014;Min & Taylor, 2018;Nau et al., 2015); and is negatively associated with home ownership, particularly for young adults (Bleemer et al., 2017;Houle & Berger, 2015;Mezza et al., 2016). ...
... A number of studies have demonstrated that student loan debt impacts and delays marriage, family formation, and parenthood (Addo, 2014;Bozick & Estacion, 2014;Nau et al., 2015). Specifically, it has been shown that student debt is related to difficulty paying for basic needs (Despard et al., 2016); impacts family formation decisions, particularly for women (Addo, 2014;Bozick & Estacion, 2014;Min & Taylor, 2018;Nau et al., 2015); and is negatively associated with home ownership, particularly for young adults (Bleemer et al., 2017;Houle & Berger, 2015;Mezza et al., 2016). Additional research has found that student debt contributes to young adults returning to their caregivers' homes due to financial strain, and that this is more likely for Black than White graduates (Bleemer et al., 2017;Davidson, 2014;Houle & Warner, 2017). ...
... Research has found that for every $1,000 in student loan debt that women carry, they reduce their odds of first marriage by 2 percent per month after undergraduate graduation. (Bozick and Estacion 2014) Although massive higher education debt loads are peculiar to the US it is plausible that if significantly negative net worth is carried into the housing market, that a person carrying the debt will seem less marriageable. (Bleemer et al. 2014) Alongside such credit-based challenges is the lack of affordable housing, a phenomenon that is hardly unique to the US. ...
Article
Inflation not only debases the value of currency by lowering purchasing power. It also serves to erode the quantity and quality of marriages while creating distortions in the decision-making processes of those hoping to form marriages and to have children. Furthermore, a loss of purchasing power helps to create relational tension for married couples, contributing to increasing divorce rates throughout the globe. As for the formation of families via marriage, the literature surrounding inflation and the family shows that price increases in higher education and housing both limit the number of first marriages as well raising the average age at which they occur. These phenomena are present in Western democracies, Islamic theocratic regimes, and highly-developed East Asian economies. Rising prices impact already married couples who would pro-create, but decide to accelerate or nearly eliminate child-bearing based on the inflationary environment in which they live. Finally, the literature shows that a loss of purchasing power leads to marital tension and higher rates of divorce. This trend is exhibited all over the world. This relationship occurs across cultural and religious systems as well as differing levels of economic development. While the problem of rising prices is economic in nature, it is shown to have deleterious effects upon the family institution.
... Among owner-occupiers, declining property values can create housing "lock-ins," whereby homeowners are trapped in their living situations or face the risk of negative housing equity (Modestino and Dennett 2013). Recent research has also found that economic instability, including mounting student loan debt, has led to delays in the transition to adulthood (Bozick and Estacion 2014;Danziger and Ratner 2010), which can affect individuals' decisions about moving and/or ability to do so. ...
Chapter
Building on the microlevel effects covered in previous chapters, this chapter discusses several ways that household mobility affects large-scale, macrolevel processes. One such way is through selective mobility—the notion that certain groups are more likely to move and move to different types of places. Selective mobility can lead to population redistribution and reinforce geographies of inequality. At the neighborhood level, high rates of household mobility can lead to low community cohesion and high rates of social disorganization and crime. Household mobility, especially over long distances, also spatially and geographically reorganizes kin and social networks. These three large-scale outcomes even have important implications for nonmobile individuals. This chapter brings together interdisciplinary research to show how household mobility can change population distributions, community organization, and sociospatial dynamics.
... In addition to these labor market factors, millennial young adults are more indebted than previous generations, with a larger proportion of debt coming from student loans and nonsecured debt (Dwyer, McCloud, & Hodson, 2011;Houle, 2014). This has affected life course transitions, such as marriage and parenthood, among youth who are waiting longer to attain these milestones (Addo, 2014;Bozick & Estacion, 2014;Nau, Dwyer, & Hodson, 2015). Increasing economic insecurity is also associated with coresidence with parents at the state and individual levels (Mykyta & Macartney, 2011;Wiemers, 2014). ...
Article
This study uses National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 cohort data from 1994 through 2012 (N = 16,108 person-years, 4,671 individuals) to investigate how coresidence with adult children influences asset levels among parents. It applies hybrid mixed effects regression models that partition between- and within-person variation to estimate parental savings and financial assets over time and across different households. The results suggest that coresidence with adult children led to decreases in parental assets and savings. In the years in which their children lived at home, parents held 24% less in financial assets and 23% less in savings when compared with the years when adult children were not present. By expanding previous research that shows a relationship between increasing economic insecurity, limited wealth, and the rise in coresidence among young adults, this study also offers broader implications for the interconnectivity of financial hardship across generations.
... The anthropology majors among them understand themselves to be privileged members of the wealthiest nation on earth, and they carry this knowledge with a certain unease. Yet many will struggle with unprecedented levels of student loan debt, which combined with shrinking options in lucrative and meaningful employment, lack of job security, wage stagnation, and tightening credit markets, will force many to postpone marriage and family, as well as ownership of the "nice houses" of which they so often dream (Bozick and Estacion 2014;Xu et al. 2015). They know that many recent college graduates wind up languishing in retail work at the mall or in serving positions at local restaurants. ...
Article
The neurocognitive theory of dreaming posits that there is a specific neural network for dreaming and that dream content is continuous with a dreamer's waking concerns. This article extends this model of dreaming by arguing that the continuity principle applies not only to intrapsychic states; dream content also frequently indexes significant shifts in the cultural atmosphere. A prominent but understudied exemplar of such indices is the appearance of media content in dreams. This article underscores such media content as an area worthy of anthropological scrutiny and focuses on celebrity dreams among US college students as a site for theorizing the imbrication of dreaming, self, and culture. It is argued that celebrity dreams index recent and dramatic shifts in media ecologies (including embodied engagement with smartphones and formative encounters with reality television) as well as middle-class young women's interiorized struggles over the expectations and exhortations associated with mounting a neoliberal and feminine public self.
... In another study, college students who educated themselves about financial matters or spent time discussing financial matters with others reported lower levels of anxiety, lower levels of depressed mood, and increased life satisfaction (Stein et al. 2013). As for nonfinancial outcomes related to marital status, the ways in which young adults have managed their own finances (chiefly student loan debt and loan repayment plans) were associated with marriage delay in the years after they received a bachelor's degree (Bozick and Estacion 2014). How certain financial management practices may affect young adults' relationship quality, however, has yet to be determined. ...
Article
Full-text available
We examined how perceived financial socialization—from parents, the romantic partner, and young adults’ own behavior—was associated with young adults’ life outcomes and well-being (i.e., physical and mental health, finances, romantic relationship). Using data (N = 504) from young adults specific to their finances, results from hierarchical regression analyses showed that young adults’ own financial behaviors were the most patterned, followed by financial socialization from the romantic partner, and then from financial socialization from parents (only objective financial knowledge). We discuss how young adults’ financial behavior, financial socialization from the romantic partner and, to a lesser extent, parental socialization are associated with young adults’ life domains, underscoring the developmental salience of increased financial capability and relationship formation and decreased dependence on parents during the transition to adulthood.
... The impact of educational debt on decisions to marry is observed by Bozick and Estacion (2014) using data from the 1993 Baccalaureate and Beyond Longitudinal Study. Using a discrete-time hazard model, they find that the odds of first marriage decline by 2 percent with an increase of $1,000 in student loan borrowing among females in the first four years after attaining a college degree. ...
... Even while borrowers are in college, evidence suggests that they pay a psychic cost for their debt: Debt-induced stress negatively affects several dimensions of mental health (Deckard et al., 2021). The impact of student loans over the life course persists well into early and middle adulthood by influencing choices about career (Field, 2009;Rothstein & Rouse, 2011), business startup (Ambrose et al., 2015), family formation (Bozick & Estacion, 2014;Stivers & Berman, 2020), and home ownership (Mezza et al., 2020). ...
Article
Full-text available
This paper studies the patterns of individuals’ student loan repayment for up to 12 years, tracking borrowers through the formative ages of the early 20s to the late 30s. Using social sequence and cluster analysis to understand these longitudinal repayment histories, we identify five archetypes of loan repayment that describe borrowers’ experiences: persistent defaulters, perpetual payers, rapid full payers, late full payers, and consolidators. We find significant stratification by race/ethnicity, social class, and institutional sector into repayment clusters, with minoritized borrowers and those attending for-profit institutions more likely to experience adverse borrowing outcomes and to experience them for longer.
... Longitudinal studies show that increases in unsecured debt are associated with higher stress levels and an increased risk for depression in adults (Hodson et al. 2014), as well as declines in children's socioemotional well-being (Berger and Houle 2016). High debt levels also have consequences for other life-course transitions, including marriage, parenthood, and transitions out of the parental home, among young adults (Addo 2014;Bleemer et al. 2014;Bozick and Estacion 2014;Nau, Dwyer, and Hodson 2015). Thus, depending on how it is used and the broader economic situations of households, debt has the potential to affect experiences of economic insecurity in various ways. ...
Article
Full-text available
Balancing finances is a complicated and precarious act for many U.S. households, with constant concerns that income will not be enough. What happens when households are no longer able to keep up this balancing act? This research draws on 2019 Survey of Consumer Finances data to examine varying experiences of economic insecurity, measured as whether a household’s expenses exceeded its income in the previous year, and households’ strategies for managing economic insecurity. The author explores the ties among economic security, household debt burdens, and credit market access. By comparing the actual strategies that insecure households used to weather insecurity with the hypothetical strategies proposed by more secure households, the findings show that the resources that protect against insecurity also influence how households manage it. Although most insecure households relied on borrowing when their spending exceeded their incomes, secure households most often recommended spending from savings or finding additional income.
... 44 For example, Bozick and Estacion (2014) find that college loans delay marriage for women, while Allison and Risman (2017) find that the college "hook-up" culture is associated with a higher ideal age at marriage for certain social groups. Since one reason to marry or cohabit is to have children, the age at first relationship for college graduates can be linked to their optimal age at pregnancy, which is higher according to De la Croix and Pommeret (2018) because it represents a riskier project than it does for those with fewer years of education. ...
Preprint
Full-text available
Cohabiting without being married is a common practice in the United States, especially among noncollege-educated individuals. I provide a theoretical rationale for the different mating behaviors by education, building a life-cycle model of partnership formation in which cohabitation can be both an investment good, useful to learn about the quality of prospective marriage partners, and a consumption good, namely a cheap substitute to marriage. A structural estimation of this model suggests that the composition of labor market earnings accounts for the differential likelihood to cohabit and to marry of people with different education levels, by influencing their demand for commitment.
... The likelihood is that this trend will continue despite warnings that the decision to attend college is becoming ever more fraught with uncertainties involving economic risk (Ma et al. 2016). Moreover, several studies have found that student loan debt can have negative long-term financial consequences for households (Andruska et al. 2014;Bozick and Estacion 2014). On the other hand, as a number of other studies have shown, some students are averse to taking out loans to pay for college (Cadena and Keys 2013;Caetano et al. 2011), and instead are seeking out other options to pay for a college education, notably, paid employment. ...
Article
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This study sought to determine whether the levels of financial satisfaction reported by college undergraduates and graduates differ in relation to whether they funded their college education by working or borrowing or a combination of the two. Data for this study came from a survey sample of full-time freshmen that formed the basis of a longitudinal study conducted at a large public university. Funding sources examined were grouped into those who worked only, those who borrowed only, those who worked and borrowed, and those who used grants, scholarships, or other sources of money to fund their college education. Compared to those who had student loans, those who had financed college with grants, scholarships, or other money (usually from family and/or friends) were more likely to report greater financial satisfaction than those who had used student loans to pay for college. There was evidence that this was only true during college rather than after college. The results obtained suggest that merely possessing a student loan may not necessarily decrease the level of financial satisfaction as many suspect, especially considering other funding alternatives such as working during college. While there was no significant impact of these funding strategies on financial satisfaction either during or after college, there was evidence for possible thresholds at which overall student loan balances may begin to erode financial satisfaction. The results obtained suggest that student loans may not decrease the level of financial satisfaction as much as many have suspected when compared with working to pay for college, as long as the amount of the student loan is not excessive, and is not accompanied by other types of debt (which also reduced financial satisfaction).
... While all participants shared the same key stressor-loan repayment for a child's education-the stressor's magnitude did play a role in the experience of family conflict. This finding is not surprising, as higher debt amounts tend to be associated with greater impacts to borrowers (Bozick & Estacion, 2014;Schwartz & Finnie, 2002). ...
Article
Full-text available
As college costs rise in the United States, many parents are forced to make difficult decisions about how to pay for their children’s higher education. Stress and conflict accompany financial issues and play a role in the financial picture for many families. Using Hill’s (Hill, Social casework 39:139–150, 1958) ABC-X model of family stress as a framework, this study describes results of a national survey of parents contributing to student loan payments for their child’s education and explores how this experience may play a role in familial conflict. Findings suggest marked gender differences in the relationship between contribution reason and the experience of conflict. Results also carry implications for financial professionals, suggesting a need for family-focused and gender-conscious financial education both before and during the student loan repayment process.
... In fact, studies have found that individuals who have student debt obligations are less likely to marry in a given time period (25,26) or to transition from being single to directly marrying (without cohabiting first) (27). Others have found that student debt reduces the likelihood of having children, particularly for Whites and Hispanics (28). ...
Article
Levels of nonmarital first childbearing are assessed using recent administrations of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, 1997 Cohort; the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health; and the National Survey of Family Growth. Results confirm that the higher a woman's educational attainment, the less likely she is to be unmarried at the time of her first birth. A comparison over time shows increases in nonmarital first childbearing at every educational level, with the largest percentage increase occurring among women with college degrees at the BA or BS level or higher. This article projects that 18 to 27% of college-educated women now in their thirties who have a first birth will be unmarried at the time. In addition, among all women who are unmarried at first birth, women with college degrees are more likely to be married at the time of their second birth, and, in a majority of cases, the other parent of the two children was the same person. A growing proportion of well-educated women, and their partners, may therefore be pursuing a family formation strategy that proceeds directly to a first birth, and then proceeds, at a later point, to marriage, followed by a second birth. Possible reasons for the increase in nonmarital first births among the college-educated include the stagnation of the college wage premium; the rise in student debt; decreasing selectivity; and the growing acceptability of childbearing within cohabiting unions, which have become a common setting for nonmarital childbearing, and among single parents.
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Since 2000, transition to adulthood behaviors changed across gender and social class. Yet it is unclear whether these changes reflect a corresponding shift in beliefs. In particular, widening inequality and changes to higher education may differentially alter the opportunities available to young adults across gender and socioeconomic status, potentially changing attitudes about entering adulthood. Using the General Social Survey’s 2002 and 2012 waves, this paper explores beliefs about the importance and timing of six adult milestones, completing education, becoming financially independent, working full-time, living independently, getting married, and having children, across age, gender, and social class. We find that similarities in beliefs across gender and age groups persisted. In contrast, even though Americans from different social class backgrounds report similar beliefs about milestone importance, we continue to find social class differences in timing beliefs. Our findings highlight the continued need for institutional supports for disadvantaged youth moving towards adulthood.
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While student loans play a large role in the financing of higher education, there has been relatively little qualitative work on how young adults understand their debt burdens and the debt’s perceived future impact. We examine this topic utilizing a sample of 105 young people from working-, middle-, and upper middle-class backgrounds who experienced young adulthood during the Great Recession. While most respondents are accepting of debt at the time of postsecondary enrollment, their inability to meet the demands of their debt leads to frustration and anxiety. Further, many respondents are concerned that this debt will impact their ability to support themselves and transition into the role of a marital partner, although this varies across social class backgrounds and debt levels. We argue that this debt, and its corresponding repercussions, are likely to contribute to the continued bifurcation of family life in the United States.
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We develop and estimate a dynamic model to study the impact of student debt on education, career, and marriage market choices of young female lawyers. Our model accounts for several important institutional features of the labor market for lawyers, including differences in the work hours across occupational tracks and learning about the prospects of promotion to partner. Some female students need to take on large amounts of student debt to finance their education and hence start their careers with large amounts of negative wealth. The empirical findings suggest that student debt has negative effects on marriage prospects, career prospects, and investments in educational quality of female lawyers. The analysis also provides new insights into the design of public policies that aim to increase public sector employment. We show that it is possible to design conditional wage or debt service subsidy programs that significantly increase public sector career choices at reasonable costs.
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The present study employs discrete-time hazard regression models to investigate the relationship between student loan debt and the probability of transitioning to either marital or nonmarital first childbirth using the 1997 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY97). Accounting for nonrandom selection into student loans using propensity scores, our study reveals that the effect of student loan debt on the transition to motherhood differs among white, black, and Hispanic women. Hispanic women holding student loans experience significant declines in the probability of transitioning to both marital and nonmarital motherhood, whereas black women with student loans are significantly more likely to transition to any first childbirth. Indebted white women experience only a decrease in the probability of a marital first birth. The results from this study suggest that student loans will likely play a key role in shaping future demographic patterns and behaviors.
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Purpose This paper aims to examine the relationship between student loan debt and first-time home buying among college graduates aged 23 to 40 years old in the USA. Design/methodology/approach The authors use the Federal Reserve’s 2019 Survey of Consumer Finances data on American households to present descriptive statistics and run logistic regressions that measure the effects of student loan debt on first-time home buying. The authors also present original survey data of mortgage lenders that provides an industry-level perspective. Findings The authors find that having student loan debt does not by itself prohibit first-time home buyers. On the contrary, having student loan debt increases the likelihood of homeownership by 15.1%. People with student loan debt, however, buy homes that are 39.2% less expensive and have 58% less home equity compared to first-time home buyers without student loans. In addition, it is found that the amount of student loan debt is important. People with student loan debt above the median amount among people with student loan debt ($35,000) are 27% less likely to be first-time home buyers. Practical implications This paper provides public policy analysts and other researchers a different perspective on the correlation between student loan debt and home buying. This study focuses narrowly on first-time home buyers who are college graduates between 23 and 40 years. Thus, capturing the youngest cohort of first-time home buyers and examine the primary factors that influence their home buying decisions. Originality/value First-time homebuyers are historically the largest segment of home buyers making them an important subcategory to study. The rise in student loan debt is posited to explain declining homeownership among younger people. The current literature on student loan debt and home buying often studies samples that are too heterogeneous resulting in mixed findings. This paper adds to the existing literature by filtering the sample to study the effects of student loan debt and first-time home buying among people with at least a college degree who are between 23 and 40 years.
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As more Americans delay marriage and meet partners online, schools may be less important for educational assortative mating. At the same time, social ties formed during college may continue to shape partner choice later in adulthood. This study focuses on young adults with “some college, no degree” to see what, if any, marriage‐market benefit is gained from exposure to highly educated social networks in college. Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Youth 1997, including newly collected postsecondary transcripts, the author finds young adults with “some college” are more likely than their less‐educated peers to marry a college graduate, especially if they attended a 4‐year school, but young adults with bachelor's degrees still hold an advantage, even after controlling for duration of schooling. The results support the role of schools in shaping opportunities to meet partners but highlight the value of college degrees on the marriage market.
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Using data acquired from a four‐time longitudinal survey, we tested a model linking two measures of self‐agency, i.e., problem‐solving orientations and financial self‐efficacy, to student‐loan repayment stress. Of those participants who responded at Wave 4 (N=855) of a longitudinal study, the 396 who had acquired student loans were included in our structural equation model's Mplus analysis. After we controlled for gender, college financial education, ethnicity, and participant annual income, we found that both financial self‐efficacy and negative problem‐solving orientation were related to perceived difficulty. More specifically, those participants with a greater financial self‐efficacy at Wave 4 perceived less difficulty in paying off their loans, while those with a more negative problem‐solving orientation perceived more difficulty in paying off their loans. We also fount perceived difficulty to be directly related to the actual difficulty of repaying a loan, and this perceived difficulty was, in turn, associated with loan‐specific stress. We provide implications for financial education. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
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This paper measures the effects of undergraduate student loan debt on graduates’ post-college outcomes: employment, additional enrollment, family formation, home ownership, and net worth. The analysis uses data from a nationally representative sample of 2007–08 bachelor’s degree recipients. Because a graduate’s debt burden is not randomly assigned, we use an instrumental variable – enrollment-weighted average in-state tuition over four years – to estimate the effect of debt on post-baccalaureate outcomes while minimizing selection bias. We find that four years after graduating, undergraduate debt is related to borrowers’ earnings, job choice, decisions to marry and have children, and net worth.
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Funding children’s college expenses can be a family project, often requiring substantial savings from parents and educational debt from children, but parents also borrow to support their children’s postsecondary ambitions. Despite growing use of debt to finance children’s college expenses, studies have overlooked parent borrowing’s role in intergenerational financial support. This study investigates parent borrowing through the federally-funded Parent Loans for Undergraduate Student (PLUS) program to illustrate the risks and hope current higher education policies demand of families across the income distribution who are working to provide a middle-class life for their children. To do so, this research uses three datasets from the National Center for Education Statistics, including the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS), a nationally-representative, cross-sectional survey of American undergraduates in 2015-16, the Beginning Postsecondary Student Longitudinal Study (BPS), a nationally-representative, longitudinal study of American undergraduates followed between 2003 and 2009; and finally, the Educational Longitudinal Study of 2002 (ELS:2002), a nationally-representative, longitudinal study of 10th-graders surveyed between 2002 and 2012. First, this study investigates the risks parents take when they borrow through PLUS by identifying parents’ debt burdens across the income distribution. Second, I consider whether parent borrowing delivers on parents’ hopes by examining whether PLUS eases children’s path into adulthood by increasing Bachelor’s degree attainment and financial wellbeing for families across the income distribution. My project finds that parents’, regardless of their means, are burdened by PLUS loans, albeit in different ways. In addition, PLUS loan debt is highest among high- and upper-middle income parents, demonstrating that college costs are beyond the means of even advantaged families. In addition, rather than supporting young adult children as they transition to adulthood, PLUS is not guaranteed to deliver on parents’ hopes. Instead, PLUS provides limited benefits in terms of degree attainment, and higher levels of PLUS loans are associated with greater financial stress for young adult children. I discuss the theoretical and policy implications for intergenerational family support, debt, and college affordability.
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Does the gender pay gap affect women’s ability to repay their student debt? This study investigates the extent to which an income contingent scheme benefits women because of their individual earnings. Using the Australian Household, Income, and Labour Dynamics in Australia Survey, gender differences in debt repayment behaviour over the past two decades was examined. The regression model comprised interaction terms including risk-averse, low socio-economic status, low wealth and low income. The industries where the majority of women are employed – education and health – were also examined. It was found that over 2002–2014, women generally had less student debt than men, but those who were low income carried more debt. This is the first study to include an analysis of student debt by industry through a gender lens. Given the increasing amount of student debt Australians are carrying, it is important for policymakers to pay attention to its effects to ensure fairness and equity.
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Background: The growing student debt of physical therapists entering the workforce, coupled with the growth in projected need, raises concerns about where and how entry-level physical therapists will practice and if these choices will be affected by their debt burden. Objective: The purpose of this study was to identify the debt profile of entry-level physical therapists and explore relationships between the student debt and clinical practice setting choices. Methods: This study utilized a cross-sectional survey design to identify debt profiles and explore relationships between student debt and the clinical practice choices of entry-level physical therapists. Results: The mean debt-to-income ratio based on the total reported educational debt was 197% (93%). The most frequently reported debt range for DPT debt and total educational debt was $100,000 to $124,999. Despite the setting itself being rated as the most important factor (83%), 28% of subjects reported debt as a barrier to their desired practice setting. In addition, when considering job choice overall, 57% of the subjects reported that their student debt has had an effect on their decision. Limitations: This study is limited by its small sample size, originating from one state, and being taken by convenience from a special interest group. Data were collected with an anonymous survey, which increases the risk of selection bias. In addition, there are further personal, family, and institutional characteristics that were not collected in this study, which may influence the interaction between student debt and clinical practice choices. Conclusions: The results of this study suggest that practice setting choice may be affected by physical therapist student debt and that student debt may be a barrier overall to practice and career choices in physical therapy.
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In the past several decades, a new life stage has emerged: early adulthood. No longer adolescents, but not yet ready to assume the full responsibilities of an adult, many young people are caught between needing to learn advanced job skills and depending on their family to support them during the transition.
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Among the many transitions young people make as they enter adult-hood, marriage is perhaps the most important. This paper uses data from the National Longitudinal Surveys of Young Women and Young Men to examine the transition to marriage and how it differs by sex, testing the extent of variation in the desirability of marriage for men and women, and the effects of marriage market factors and marital and nonmarital roles. The design of the analysis allows the effects of these factors to vary over the young adult years. The pattern of findings suggests that recent declines in the marriage rate have not resulted from increased barriers to marriage but from declines in relative preferences for marriage.
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We evaluate a marital search model that links the quantity and quality of available men to first marriage transitions among black women and white women in the United States. Our analysis provides a more complex assessment of the hypothesis that racial differences in transitions to first marriage reflect shortages of marriageable men in local marriage markets. We attach several indicators of local marriage market conditions (primarily sex ratios from the 1980 Census) to women's marital histories available in the 1979 through 1986 waves of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth. Our discrete-time logit models support the following conclusions: (1) A shortage in the quantity and quality of available males in local areas depresses women's transitions to first marriage; (2) economic independence among women (as measured by employment and earnings) is positively associated with entry into marriage; (3) racial differences in mate availability account for a relatively small share of existing racial differences in marriage; (4) indicators of local mate availability nevertheless account for a larger proportion of observed racial differences in transitions to first marriage than factors such as family background, welfare status and living arrangements (e.g., multigenerational family); (5) the effects of marriage market characteristics are contingent on whether women are ''searching'' in the marriage market; and (6) the effect of a shortage of ''economically attractive'' men is not simply an artifact of local demographic deficits of men to marry.
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The 1990s saw a considerable fall in young adult homeownership rates in Britain. There is a concern that the future might hold further falls as a result of reforms to financing higher education. Using estimates from a housing tenure choice model, this paper conducts micro-simulation analyses to assess how this change could affect young adult homeownership transitions. The simulations reveal that increased student debt levels and the new repayment profile and their interaction with lender-imposed borrowing restrictions delay a first-time homeownership transition. The extent of the delay primarily depends upon the expected earnings profile, but lender criteria and general rises/falls in real house prices are also important. The analysis suggests that there will be much greater variation in the timing of house purchase between different groups of future graduates, brought about by increased graduate earnings heterogeneity, homeownership affordability schemes targeted toward specific types of households, and parental financial assistance.
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In 1958 Jacob Mincer pioneered an important approach to understand how earnings are distributed across the population. In the years since Mincer's seminal work, he as well as his students and colleagues extended the original human capital model, reaching important conclusions about a whole array of observations pertaining to human well-being. This line of research explained why education enhances earnings; why earnings rise at a diminishing rate throughout one's life; why earnings growth is smaller for those anticipating intermittent labor force participation; why males earn more than females; why whites earn more than blacks; why occupational distributions differ by gender; why geographic and job mobility predominate among the young; and why numerous other labor market phenomena occur. This paper surveys the answers to these and other questions based on research emanating from Mincer's original earnings function specification.
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Based on data from 1979–1990 NLSY interviews, we investigate the implications of rising economic inequality for young men’s marriage timing. Our approach is to relate marriage formation to the ease or difficulty of the career-entry process and to show that large race/schooling differences in career development lead to substantial variations in marriage timing. We develop measures of current career “maturity” and of long-term labor-market position. Employing discrete-time event-history methods, we show that these variables have a substantial impact on marriage formation for both blacks and whites. Applying our regression results to models based on observed race/schooling patterns of career development, we then estimate cumulative proportions ever married in a difficult versus an easy career-entry process. We find major differences in the pace of marriage formation, depending on the difficulty of the career transition. We also find considerable differences in these marriage timing patterns across race/schooling groups corresponding to the large observed differences in the speed and difficulty of career transitions between and within these groups
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Although a substantial and rising labor market premium is associated with college attendance in general, little is known about how this premium varies across institutions of different types and across time. In this paper we explicitly model high school students' choice of college type (characterized by selectivity and control) based on individual and family characteristics (including ability and parental economic status) and an estimate of the net costs of attendance. We estimate selectivity-corrected outcome equations using data from both the National Longitudinal Study of the High School Class of 1972 and High School and Beyond, which permit us to determine the effects of college quality on wages and earnings and how this effect varies across time. Even after controlling for selection effects, strong evidence emerges of a significant economic return to attending an elite private institution, and some evidence suggests this premium has increased over time.
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In the typical life history of a social revolution, the initial revolutionary ardor proves to be sustainable for only so long, and gradually sentiment grows that the revolution has stalled or run its course. We appear to be entering just such a period of pessimism about the future of the ongoing "gender revolution." After a half-century of dramatic reductions in the gender pay gap and other forms of gender inequality, we now find ourselves poised at a crossroads in which two very plausible futures appear before us, an "optimistic scenario" which assumes that the remaining (and very substantial) gender inequalities will continue to erode, and a "pessimistic scenario" which treats the gender revolution as stalling and regards contemporary institutional arrangements as an equilibrium.
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The paper investigates the importance of income in young Americans’ decisions to form and dissolve households. Using data on young American men and women from the NLSY, an important role for income in both these transitions is found. There are significant differences between young men and women. High earnings capacity increases the probability of marriage and decreases the probability of divorce for young men. High earnings capacity decreases the probability of marriage for young women, and has no impact on divorce. Copyright Springer-Verlag 2003
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This article explores the relationship between economic potential and rates of entry into marriage and cohabitation. Using data from the 1990 census and the 1980-1992 High School and Beyond (Sophomore Cohort), we developed a method for explicitly estimating five time-varying measures of earnings potential. The analyses of union formation are based on an intergenerational panel study of parents and children, to which our measures of earnings potential were appended. The results indicate that all five measures of earnings potential strongly and positively influence the likelihood of marriage for men, but not for women. Earnings potential does not affect entry into cohabiting unions for either men or women.
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While there is evidence of a substantial and rising labor market premium associated with college attendance, little is known about how this premium varies across institutions of different quality and across time. Previous research which has estimated the return to college quality has not taken into account that individuals likely select the type of college they attend based in part on the expected economic return and net costs. In this paper we explicitly model high school students' choice of college type (characterized by quality and control) based on individual and family characteristics (including ability and parental economic status), and an estimate of the net costs of attendance and expected labor market return. We estimate selectivity corrected outcome equations, using data from both the National Longitudinal Study of the High School Class of 1972 and High School and Beyond, which permit us to determine the effects of college quality on wages and earnings and how this effect varies across time. Even after controlling for selection effects there is strong evidence of significant economic return to attending an elite private institution, and some evidence that this premium has increased over time.
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Competing theories of marriage formation are evaluated by merging several contextual variables, primarily marriage market characteristics from the 1980 census, with men's marital histories observed between 1979 and 1984 in the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth. Discrete-time event history models reveal that, net of conventional individual-level predictors, a shortage of prospective partners in the local marriage market impedes white men's transition to first marriage. Women's aggregate economic independence, measured in terms of the proportion of females in the local marriage market who are employed and in terms of the size of average AFDC payments, also diminishes men's marriage propensities. Although earnings and home ownership facilitate men's marital transitions, racial differences in socioeconomic and marriage market characteristics account for relatively little of the substantial racial difference in marriage rates.
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In this paper, we explore the determinants of marital timing for males and females, separately by race, using a sequential model and data from the National longitudinal Study of the High School Class of 1972. Results indicate that background factors are relatively unimportant in determining directly when marriage will occur. Rather, events and circumstances that are more current are the determining factors as to whether a marriage will occur. In addition, the factors important in determining marital timing vary systematically according to sex and race. The models for blacks are distinct in that few measured predictors of marital timing show consistently significant effects, contrary to the case for whites. This suggests a much different marriage market for each of the races.
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We examine the extent to which the timing of first marriage differs for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan young women. Individual-level data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth are matched to local marriage market conditions to estimate discrete time hazard models of transitions to first marriage. Young nonmetropolitan women marry at a younger age than metropolitan women, a difference only partially explained by variations in the attributes of the young women, their families, and the local marriage market. The effects of receipt of public assistance and local mate availability on the transition to first marriage differ for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan young women.
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Over the past 50 years, women's roles have changed dramatically - a reality captured by substantial increases in employment and reductions in fertility. Yet, the social organization of work and family life has not changed much, leading to pervasive work-family conflict. Observing these strains, some scholars wonder whether U.S. women's high employment levels are sustainable. Women's employment in professional and managerial occupations - the core of the analyses offered in this article - merits particular interest because of the material and symbolic implications for gender equality. In a cohort analysis of working-age women born between 1906 and 1975, I show that employment levels among college-educated women in professional and managerial occupations have increased across cohorts. Full-time, year-round employment rates continue to rise across cohorts, even among women in historically male professions and mothers of young children. Although labor force participation rates have stopped rising, they have stalled at a very high rate, with less than 8 percent of professional women born since 1956 out of the labor force for a year or more during their prime childbearing years. Moreover, the difference in employment rates between mothers and childless women - the "child penalty" - is shrinking across cohorts.
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In this paper, we advance and test an integrative model of the effects of employment status, nonstandard work schedules, male employment, and women's perceptions of economic instability on union formation among low-income single mothers. On the basis of the longitudinal data from 1,299 low-income mothers from the Three-City Welfare Study, results indicate that employment status alone is not significantly associated with whether women marry or cohabit. Rather, we find that nonemployed mothers and mothers working nonstandard schedules were less likely to marry compared to those working standard schedules. Mothers' perceptions of economic well-being were associated with marriage at Wave 2. In contrast, cohabitation outcomes were not explained by economic factors, but were related to the perception of child care support. The policy implications of these results are discussed, in particular, as they relate to welfare reform's work and family goals.
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This study uses the Baccalaureate and Beyond Longitudinal Study 1993/94 of the National Center for Education Statistics to examine the relationship that student background characteristics, collegiate performance, and financial indebtedness have with the decisions of recent bachelor's degree recipients to apply to and enroll in a graduate or first professional school.
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This study examines why low-income, unmarried parents who say that they plan to marry at the time their child is born do not follow through on their plans. We use data from a nationally representative birth cohort survey—the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (N =3,710)—combined with data from an embedded qualitative study—Time, Love, Cash, Caring, and Children (n =47)—to explore the reasons behind this apparent discrepancy. We find that some of the difference between parents’ expectations and behavior may be because of the overstatement of intentions at the time of the birth. Most of the discrepancy, however, results from parents’ perceived social and economic barriers to marriage. Specifically, unmarried parents have a long list of financial and relationship prerequisites they believe must be met in order for them to wed. Combined with other factors, these standards lead to an indeterminate delay in marriage.
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With the use of a midified job-search theory, a conceptual framework is developed to show that some factors influence marriage timing by either facilitating or impeding assortative mating. Transition-to-work is emphasized because work structures people's lifestyles and is the major source of socioeconomic status; however, its nature is often unpredictable in early adulthood, while other personal attributes emerge early. The theory is applied to the dynamics of assortative mating under two contrasting scenarios: when gender roles are highly segregated, and when women's economic roles start to resemble those of men. Finally, the implications of the analysis for Becker's reduced-gains-to-marriage argument are assessed.
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Drawing on the literature on the links between economic resources and the transition to marriage, this study examines the role of economic well-being in the formation of marital and cohabitational unions. I use event history models with data from a large longitudinal data set of young adults. In general, economic well-being has a weaker association with cohabitation than with marriage, but this differs by sex. Further, results suggest that both men and women who are economically unstable are likely to cohabit. The findings suggest that cohabitation may provide an attractive alternative for those who are in romantic relationships but lack the economic well-being required for marriage or lack the occupational stability that would make them attractive candidates for the long-term contract that marriage implies.
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Cohabitation is now the modal path to marriage in the United States. Drawing on data from 115 in-depth interviews with cohabitors from the working and lower middle classes, this paper explores how economics shape marital decision making. We find that cohabitors typically perceive financial issues as important for marriage, and we delineate several key themes. Whereas some social scientists speculate that cohabitors must think that marriage will change their lives in order to motivate marriage, our findings suggest that cohabitors believe marriage should occur once something has already changed—in this case, their financial status. Our results also imply that political and scientific discourse on financial problems as deterrents to marriage should be broadened beyond a focus on poor unmarried parents.
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Has the relationship between economic prospects and marriage formation in the United States changed in recent decades? To answer this question, a discrete-time event-history analysis was conducted using data from multiple cohorts of the National Longitudinal Surveys of Labor Market Experience. Among women, results indicate growth in the importance of earnings for marriage formation between the early baby-boom cohort (born between 1950 and 1954) and late baby-boom cohort (born between 1961 and 1965). Evidence of cohort change in the relationship between men's economic prospects and marriage, however, is limited. Despite important racial differences in the economic and attitudinal context of marriage, key results are generally similar for whites and for African Americans. Taken together, these findings imply that men and women are growing to resemble one another with respect to the relationship between economic prospects and marriage, although this convergence is driven primarily by changing patterns of marriage among women. These results are largely supportive of Oppenheimer's career-entry theory of marriage and suggest that Becker's specialization and trading model of marriage may be outdated.
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While Income inequality among college graduates is well documented, inequality in occupational status remains largely unexplored. We examine whether and how occupational specificity of college majors is related to college graduates' transition into the labor market and their subsequent occupational trajectories. Analyses of NLSY79 indicate that occupationally specific degrees are beneficial at the point of entry into the labor market but have the lowest growth in occupational status over time. Students earning credentials focusing on general skills, in contrast, begin in jobs with low occupational status but subsequently report the greatest growth. These findings illuminate specific ways in which educational and occupational systems interact and provide a novel approach for understanding inequality in labor market outcomes among college graduates.
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Changes in the relationship between educational attainment and work-life earnings over the past 25 years were examined by using data from the Current Population Survey (CPS) to construct synthetic work-life earnings. CPS data collected in March 1998, 1999, and 2000 were analyzed by age, sex, full- or part-time work experience, race, Hispanic origin, and educational attainment groupings. The synthetic estimates were created by using the various study groups' 1-year annual earnings and summing age-specific average earnings for people aged 25-64 years. The resultant totals represent what individuals with the same educational level would expect to earn on average in 1999 dollars in a hypothetical 40-year working life. The following were among the key findings: (1) earnings increase with educational level, with average annual earnings ranging from $18,900 for high school dropouts to $25,900 for high school graduates, $45,400 for college graduates, and $99,300 for workers with professional degrees; (2) earnings differences by educational attainment compound over an individual's lifetime; (3) the educational gap between women and men is narrowing; and (4) educational attainment and work-life earnings vary by sex, race, and Hispanic origin. Detailed information about the study assumptions and limitations and the computational procedure are included. (Contains 10 tables/figures.) (MN)
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This report, based on the College Board's Annual Survey of Colleges, provides updated information on tuition and other expenses associated with attending public and private nonprofit institutions of postsecondary education in the United States in the 2003-2004 academic year. The annual survey is distributed to more than 2,800 postsecondary institutions across the country to collect information about enrollment, admissions, degrees and majors, tuition, financial aid, and other aspects of undergraduate education. For the 2003-2004 academic year, the average tuition and fees for in-state students at public 4-year colleges and universities is $4,694, up from $4,115 in 2002-2003, an increase of 14.1%. Because room and board charges increased at the lower rate of 6.6%, the increase in average total charges at 4-year public colleges and universities for 2003-2004 was 9.8%, to $10,636. Tuition and fees at public 2-year colleges, averaging $1,905 in 2003-2004, are only about 40% of these at public 4-year institutions. However this year's increase represents a rise of 13.8%. Private colleges posted smaller percentage increases in their tuition and fees. Average 4-year private college tuition and fees rose by 6.0%, to $19,710. Almost 60% of undergraduates receive some form of financial aid to help them pay for college. Estimates suggest that in 2002-2003, grant aid averages almost $2,000 per student in 2-year colleges, more than $2,400 at public 4-year institutions, and about $7,300 at private 4-year institutions. About 29% of undergraduate students at 4-year colleges and universities full time are enrolled in institutions charging less than $4,00 in tuition and fees, and almost 70% face published tuition charges of less than $8,000. As in previous years, data show that the cost associated with not going to college is likely to be much greater than the costs of attendance. (Contains 6 figures and 15 tables.) (SLD)
Article
Longitudinal data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics for a sample of 6570 women and men observed between 1969 and 1993 are used to examine historical changes and life-course variation in the effects of family background characteristics on the timing of first marriage. Discrete-time event history analyses reveal that the inverse effect of parental resources (family income and mother's education) on the timing of first marriage has both declined over time and weakens as children age. Historical declines in the effect of parental resources on first marriage timing appear to explain the divergence between Black and White marriage patterns over this period. In contrast, the inverse effect of experiencing a nonintact family structure during childhood on the timing of first marriage remains constant over both historical time and the life course. The implications of these findings for theories of demographic individuation and life-course perspectives are discussed. Copyright 2001 Academic Press.
Article
Some 8 types of American families, structurally grouped into 5 categories, are distinguished, reflecting broadly an institutional structure of kinship. In upper-class families, there is some resemblance to a patrilineal system with a tendency toward primogeniture. In lower-class situations, there is a strong tendency to an instability of marriage and to a mother-centered type of family structure. The very nature of this setting greatly influences patterns of emotional response in children with the mother becoming the identification object as well as the disciplinary agent. In the segregation of the sex roles, the husband is predominantly the wage-earner, and the young married couple is expected to break away from parental families and to have the right to independence. This pattern seems appropriate for members of a free and enlightened society. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
This review documents the economic context within which American families lived in the 1990s. Despite nearly full employment and growing income and wealth for many Americans, problem areas included persistent racial gaps in economic well-being, growing inequality, and declining wages for young men. Women showed stronger income growth than men in the decade, and 2-earner households became increasingly associated with advantage. We review the consequences of these trends and of economic well-being generally on 4 dimensions of family outcomes: family formation, divorce, marital quality, and child well-being. Despite hypotheses suggesting that women's earnings might have different effects on family outcomes than men's earnings, generally the review supports the expectation that both men's and women's economic advantage is associated with more marriage, less divorce, more marital happiness, and greater child well-being. Important issues regarding measurement, reciprocal relations between family structure and economic well-being, and race and gender effects remain unresolved.
Article
At least two important demographic changes will occur in the United States in the future: the growth of the Hispanic population and the growth of the second and third generations among Hispanics. We argue that the expansion of the Hispanic population is unlikely to slow the retreat from marriage, despite the pronuptial cultural orientations of some groups of immigrants and their native-born coethnics. On the contrary, the second- and third-generation descendents of immigrants will join in the retreat from marriage as a result of their exposure to the cultural and economic environment of the United States, as well as changes in the countries from which their immigrant parents originate. Sources of uncertainty about this scenario are noted.
Article
In the early 2000s, a highly selective university introduced a “no-loans” policy under which the loan component of financial aid awards was replaced with grants. We use this natural experiment to identify the causal effect of student debt on employment outcomes. In the standard life-cycle model, young people make optimal educational investment decisions if they are able to finance these investments by borrowing against future earnings; the presence of debt has only income effects on investment decisions. We find that debt causes graduates to choose substantially higher-salary jobs and reduces the probability that students choose low-paid “public interest” jobs. We also find some evidence that debt affects students' academic decisions during college. Our estimates suggest that recent college graduates are not life-cycle agents. Two potential explanations are that young workers are credit constrained or that they are averse to holding debt. We find suggestive evidence that debt reduces students' donations to the institution in the years after they graduate and increases the likelihood that a graduate will default on a pledge made during her senior year; we argue this result is more likely consistent with credit constraints than with debt aversion.
Article
Social scientists generally agree that better individual economic prospects enhance the probability of marriage for men, whereas there are conflicting views with regard to women. Moreover, it is argued that cohabitation does not require as strong an economic foundation as marriage. The aim of this study, which was based on Finnish register data, was to find out how the socio-economic resources of young adults affect first-union formation, and whether the effects vary by sex or union type. The results show that high education, labour-force participation, and high income seem to promote union formation. The findings are similar for women and men, which is plausible given the comparatively gender-egalitarian societal context. Similar factors encourage entry into both union types, although the union-promoting effects of university-level education and stable employment are stronger in the marriage models, suggesting that long-term prospects are more important when marriage is contemplated.
Article
Demographic trends in the 2000s showed the continuing separation of family and household due to factors such as childbearing among single parents, the dissolution of cohabiting unions, divorce, repartnering, and remarriage. The transnational families of many immigrants also displayed this separation, as families extended across borders. In addition, demographers demonstrated during the decade that trends such as marriage and divorce were diverging according to education. Moreover, demographic trends in the age structure of the population showed that a large increase in the elderly population will occur in the 2010s. Overall, demographic trends produced an increased complexity of family life and a more ambiguous and fluid set of categories than demographers are accustomed to measuring.
Article
This paper examines the impact of college quality and academic major on the earnings of a nationally representative sample of baccalaureate recipients. We extend previous work in this area by analyzing the magnitude of change in the influence of these factors at two points in the early career of these graduates. Our results demonstrate that, despite significant variation, graduates from higher quality colleges enjoy a greater rate of growth in earnings during their early career. We also show that growth in earnings varies significantly by the graduates’ major field of study. Wage growth for women and racial minorities is also examined.
Article
I present in this paper the skeleton of a theory of marriage. The two basic assumptions are that each person tries to do as well as possible and that the "marriage market" is in equilibrium. With the aid of several additional simplifying assumptions, I derive a number of significant implications about behavior in this market. For example, the gain to a man and woman from marrying compared to remaining single is shown to depend positively on their incomes, human capital, and relative difference in wage rates. The theory also implies that men differing in physical capital, education or intelligence (aside from their effects on wage rates), height, race, or many other traits will tend to marry women with like values of these traits, whereas the correlation between mates for wage rates or for traits of men and women that are close substitutes in household production will tend to be negative. The theory does not take the division of output between mates as given, but rather derives it from the nature of the ma...
Article
In the context of today's tight labor markets, as well as projections of continued demand for workers with high skills, various states are considering how to retain and attract college graduates. Such efforts involve identifying an area's relative strengths and weaknesses and taking actions as needed, either to capitalize on the strengths or to mitigate the weaknesses. Perhaps surprisingly, however, little systematic evidence exists on the factors influencing location decisions of recent graduates. This study is a first step in providing such evidence, making use of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth from 1979 to 1996 to examine cross-state migration in the five-year period after completion of schooling. ; The author first presents information on geographic mobility of young adults by educational attainment and region of the country. Next, she briefly outlines previous explanations for migration in the general population and investigates their applicability both to young college graduates and-for comparison-to other young adults without four years of college. Her study shows that the person's past history of migration is very important. In addition, the majority of moves are made to states with stronger economies or more attractive characteristics, as measured by such factors as higher employment growth, lower unemployment, higher pay, lower housing costs, or better amenities.
To pay off loans, grads put off marriage, children
  • S Shellenbarger
Shellenbarger, S. (2012). To pay off loans, grads put off marriage, children. Wall Street Journal: April 17.
Current Population Survey, Annual social and economic supplement, selected years: 1991-2010 [electronic resource
U.S. Census Bureau (2011). Current Population Survey, Annual social and economic supplement, selected years: 1991-2010 [electronic resource].
Long-term trend accelerates during recession: Record shares of new mothers are college-educated
  • G Livngston
  • D Cohn
Livngston, G. and Cohn, D. (2013). Long-term trend accelerates during recession: Record shares of new mothers are college-educated. Washington, DC: Pew Research Center.
Stata statistical software: Release 9.0 user's guide. College Station
  • Statcorp
StatCorp (2005). Stata statistical software: Release 9.0 user's guide. College Station, TX: Stata Corporation.
In debt and alone? Examining the causal link between student loans and marriage
  • D Gicheva
Gicheva, D. (2011).In debt and alone? Examining the causal link between student loans and marriage. University of North Carolina: Department of Economics Working Paper.
The price of independence: The economics of early adulthood
  • N S Chiteji
Chiteji, N.S. (2007). To have to hold: An analysis of young adult debt. In: Danziger, S. and Rouse, C.E. (eds.). The price of independence: The economics of early adulthood. New York: Russell Sage: 231-258.