Marriage Patterns of Black Women: Education, Competition and the Shortage of Available Men

Kalina Staub, Duke University

Black women who drop out of high school are marrying at much lower rates than more educated black women. Previous studies have assumed independent marriage markets by education level. However, when we characterize marriage markets in this way, they seem to be the most favorable for the least educated women. Using a simple model of the marriage market from Becker (1981) that allows for integration in marriage markets across education levels, I show that any imbalance in sex ratios, especially at the top of the educational distribution, should cascade down to disproportionately impact the least educated women. Using data from the 1979-2004 waves of the NLSY79 and a discrete-time hazard framework, I include a sex ratio based on Becker's model that accounts for both the supply of men and the competition from more educated women. This "cascading" sex ratio is more effective in accounting for the educational differences in marriage.

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Presented in Session 120: Trends and Variability in Unions