Employment and Marriage among Inner-city Fathers

Mark Testa, Nan Marie Astone, Marilyn Krogh, Kathryn M. Neckerman

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52 Scopus citations


This article uses data from the Urban Poverty and Family Structure Survey of inner-city residents in Chicago to examine the effect of employment on the likelihood that single fathers marry. Our results show that employed fathers are twice as likely as nonemployed fathers to marry the mother of their first child. These results run contrary to Charles Murray's argument that welfare discourages employed, low-income men from marrying. They are consistent with William Julius Wilson's hypothesis that the rise in male joblessness is linked to the rise in never-married parenthood in the inner city. Our analysis also shows that couples are more likely to marry when the woman is a high school graduate. In this population, the enhanced earnings potential of a woman increases, not decreases, the likelihood of marriage. This result is inconsistent with the hypothesis that the closer a woman's earnings potential is to a man's, the less likely the couple is to marry. Neither employment nor education fully accounts for the racial and ethnic differences we observe in the marriage rates of fathers in inner-city Chicago.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)79-91
Number of pages13
JournalThe ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Sciences(all)


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