Too Poor to Marry? A Cross-National Comparison of the SES Gradient in Marriage and Cohabitation

Joshua R. Goldstein, Princeton University
Catherine T. Kenney, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

In the United States, cohabitation as an alternative to marriage becomes less common the higher the socioeconomic status of the partners. In this paper we use census microdata from a large number of countries around the world to describe the universality of this social gradient to marriage and cohabitation. Preliminary results from Mexico, Brazil, Kenya, France, and Norway show that most countries do indeed have a stongly negative gradient of cohabitation with educational attainment. The notable exception is France, which shows a positive gradient. A global description of the social gradients of marriage and cohabitation will, we hope, spur more comparative studies of family change.

  See extended abstract

Presented in Poster Session 1