From Our 2011 Archives

Wanted: Spouse With Car, Stocks, Bonds

THURSDAY, Oct. 13 (HealthDay News) -- Got a car? How about a bank account, stocks or bonds? If you answered "yes," you may find yourself also saying, "I do."

A new study finds that Americans who have financial assets such as a car or bank account are more likely to get married.

Researchers analyzed data from the U.S. National Longitudinal Survey of Youth and -- after controlling for other factors such as income, employment and family background -- found that owning a car increased the likelihood that a man would get married for the first time in a given year by 2.6%, while owning a financial asset boosted the probability by 1.5%. Personal wealth also increased women's chances of getting married, but to a lesser degree than men.

The findings, published in the September issue of the American Journal of Sociology, may help explain recent changes in marriage patterns in the United States, according to study author Daniel Schneider of Princeton University.

In recent decades, people have been getting married later in life and have become more likely to never get married. Between 1970 and 2000, the median age of first marriage in the United States rose by about four years and the number of people who never marry increased from 5% to 10%.

"What is perhaps most striking is the increasing stratification in marriage by race and education," Schneider said in a journal news release. "From 1980 to 2000, the percentage of white women who had been married by ages 25 to 29 had dropped by 13 percentage points to 68%, but the drop was far larger for blacks, dropping 25 points, to just 38%."

People with less education are also increasingly less likely to get married, he added.

"These gaps matter because a large body of social science literature suggests that marriage has beneficial effects on adults and children," Schneider said. "If those who are already disadvantaged are now marrying less and so missing out on these beneficial properties of marriage, that could cement cycles of disadvantage and intergenerational inequality."

-- Robert Preidt

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SOURCE: American Journal of Sociology, news release, October 2011