Spouse Selection the Second Time Around

Ruoding Tan, City University of New York (CUNY) and CUNY Institute for Demographic Research (CIDR)
Neil G. Bennett, CUNY Institute for Demographic Research (CIDR)

Based on a nationally representative sample drawn from the 1979-2008 waves of National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY79), we examine the changes in spousal choice that occur between women’s first and second unions in the context of a changing pool of available potential spouses on various dimensions, including age, educational level at marriage, and race. Specifically, we test two hypotheses: (1) The supply of marriageable men is associated with women’s spousal choice in first and in second marriages, and (2) If the number of available single men as potential husbands is limited, women are forced to “cast a wider net” and marry men very different from themselves. We find empirical evidence that lends support to these hypotheses. Our results show that a more diverse and smaller pool of marriageable men will limit women’s ability to realize their changing preferences and lower the likelihood of a homogamous match in second marriages.

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Presented in Session 106: Family Formation and Dissolution in the Contemporary United States