Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Economics, Applied

First Advisor

Emily Wiemers

Second Advisor

Michael Carr

Third Advisor

Kade Finnoff


Since the 1950s, the economic lives of women have changed dramatically with rapid increases in labor force participation and human capital accumulation. There has been a similarly dramatic change in marriage over the same time period with increases in the age of first marriage and in the percent of women who remain unmarried. This paper uses unique data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) linked to administrative earnings records to examine the relationship between marriage and earnings across five birth cohorts from 1920-1970. The results show that higher earnings decreased the probability of marriage for older cohorts but increased the probability of marriage for more recent cohorts. Increases in earnings also increased the age at first marriage, particularly for later cohorts. The results illustrate a shift over time in the relationship between the economic lives of women and their decisions on whether or not and when to marry.


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