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Change and Continuity in the Formation of First Marital Unions in Australia

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Marriage rates have now been falling in all Western countries for more than 20 years. Rising levels of women's education and employment, extra-marital cohabitation, and separation and divorce both preceded, and continue to accompany, this trend. We apply hazards models to a data-set rich in event-history information in order to study the links between these movements at the level of the individual in Australia. Contra the New Home Economists it transpires that longer education lowers women's propensity to marry, not by providing them with alternative careers to marriage, but by delaying their entry into the marriage market. Again, contra the New Home Economists, employment actually increases women's marriage probabilities. Cohabitation serves variously as an alternative and a prelude to formal marriage. Finally, in contrast with a study of marriage dissolution in Australia, the strengths of factors that variously inhibit or promote marriage, such as women's education and employment, have neither weakened nor strengthened during the recent past.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Demography Unit, Stockholm University, S-10691 Stockholm, Sweden

Publication date: November 1, 1994

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