Incarceration and the Formation and Stability of Marital Unions


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    Department of Sociology, Office of Population Research, Wallace Hall, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08544.

Department of Public Administration, Center for Policy Research, 426 Eggers Hall, Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY 13244-1020 (


Rising imprisonment rates and declining marriage rates among low-education African Americans motivate an analysis of the effects of incarceration on marriage. An event history analysis of 2,041 unmarried men from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth suggests that men are unlikely to marry in the years they serve in prison. A separate analysis of 2,762 married men shows that incarceration during marriage significantly increases the risk of divorce or separation. We simulate aggregate marriage rates using estimates from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth and find that the prevalence of marriage would change little if incarceration rates were reduced.