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Better Educated, Fewer Divorces: The Impact of College Education Quality on Marriage Outcomes

Shen, Danqing (2018): Better Educated, Fewer Divorces: The Impact of College Education Quality on Marriage Outcomes.

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I investigate the impact of post-secondary college education quality on marriage outcomes. Using NLSY79 data, an instrumental variable strategy is employed to identify the causal effect. Better college education is associated with stable marriage, lower probability of marriage, postponed marriage, and lower likelihood of remarriage. Among people who obtained a college degree before age 25, a one unit increase in college education- which corresponds to an increase in average SAT score of freshmen- decreases the likelihood of marriage by 21.1 percentage points, reduces the probability of ever-married before age 40 by 3.8 percentage points, and increases age at first marriage by 3 years. In addition, people with one unit higher quality of college education are 19.3 and 11.4 percentage points less likely to get divorced and divorce before 40, respectively, than those with lower quality of college education. Additionally, better-educated people have 16.4 percentage points lower probability of marital disruption in the first 10 years of first marriage and 17% fewer numbers of marriage than their counterparts. Given that numbers of college graduates have been growing up over the time, this article provides a new perspective to understand the recent trend of marriage and divorce.

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