National Institute on Aging

University Study Finds Wealth Plays a Role in the Racial Marriage Gap

A study by Daniel Schneider, a doctoral candidate in sociology at Princeton University, shows that between 1970 and 2000 the median age of first marriage in the United States rose by four years.

From 1980 to 2000 the percentage of white woman ages 25 to 29 who had ever been married dropped by 13 percentage points to 68 percent. For black women ages 25 to 29, the percentage dropped by a whopping 25 percentage points to 38 percent.

People with low levels of education and income are less likely than their peers to get married. But even controlling for these factors, blacks are less likely to get married than whites. Schneider’s data shows that wealth also plays a role. Those that own a home, a car, or financial assets are more likely to get married. And since the median black wealth in this country is about one tenth that of the median wealth of whites, the wealth gap impacts the marriage-rate gap.

Schneinder estimates that 30 percent of the marriage rate gap can be explains by racial differences in wealth.

The article “Wealth and the Marital Divide,” published in the American Journal of Sociology, can be accessed here.


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