The changing importance of white women's economic prospects for assortative mating


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    La Follette School of Public Affairs, School of Social Work, Institute for Research on Poverty, University of Wisconsin, 1180 Observatory Drive, Madison, WI 53706.

Department of Sociology, California Center for Population Research, University of California—Los Angeles, 264 Haines Hall, Los Angeles, CA 90095 (


Given recent changes in the labor force participation and economic standing of women, we ask whether a woman's position in the labor market has become a more important determinant of her position in the marriage market. Unlike much prior research on trends over time in assortative mating, we take an individual-level approach to the analysis and rely on improved measures of labor market position, such as measuring wives' wages before marriage and considering multiple indicators of husbands' longer term economic standing. Our analysis relies on data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Young Women (N = 759) and the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (N = 767). Our results are consistent with growth over time in the importance of women's earnings potential in determining their marriage prospects.