Changing educational gradients of U.S. partnership formation and dissolution? A multilevel multistate competing risks assessment

Léa Pessin, Universitat Pompeu Fabra
Lynn Prince Cooke, University of Bath

The effect of female education on partnership formation and dissolution in the United States is a widely investigated topic in the literature. However, several questions remain unanswered to understand how the role of education has changed in predicting entry and exit into partnership in the past decades. The objective of this article is to investigate the changing effect of female education on partnership formation and dissolution taking into account interrelationships between partnership dynamics and educational choices. Using data from 1968 – 2011 of the Panel Survey of Income Dynamics (PSID), we take a multilevel multistate competing risks approach to model jointly partnership transitions and education outcomes across women’s life course. Our preliminary results suggest that after correcting for selection into partnership, college education increasingly predicts women’s higher risk of entry into any type of partnership, but a lower risk of separation from marriage. However, we do not find a significant or changing relationship between college education and the outcomes of cohabitation, i.e. marriage or separation. These findings provide only partial support for McLanahan’s argument about changes in the impact of women’s educational attainment on family transitions.

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Presented in Session 65: Assortative mating, marriage and divorce

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