“Bad Jobs” for Marriage: Relationship between Job Quality and Union Formation in the Context of Labor Market Changes

So-Jung Lim, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Using the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY79) from 1979 to 2008, this paper examines the extent to which job quality and the unequal distribution of “bad jobs” (i.e., those that offer low wages and do not provide access to health insurance and pension benefits) across different sub-groups are associated with union formation during a time of deteriorating job quality. Results from discrete-time hazard models show that failure to secure a high-quality job delays first marriage among men. Also, job quality partially explains educational differences in first marriage for both men and women, especially those with less education. This study represents one of the first empirical tests of the hypothesis that job quality in the context of labor market uncertainty is a key factor for understanding marriage behaviors. Beyond theory, this study can also inform policy debates surrounding the relationship between marriage and well-being and increasing inequality in the U.S.

  See paper

Presented in Session 101: Marriage Markets